Election candidate joins subbies in fight for $7.5m owed
A SYDNEY City councillor who plans to run for the NSW Upper House in next year's elections has become an unlikely champion of a group of North Coast road sub-contractors chasing $7.5 million in unpaid invoices.
Angela Vithoulkas will hit the hustings next year fronting the Small Business Matters party, fresh from her success in winning State Government rent relief for businesses adversely affected by the Sydney Light Rail project.
With that success behind her, the plight of the 23 largely family-owned businesses left in the lurch when Ostwald Bros collapsed last August, attracted her attention.
She said the NSW Government and the Roads and Maritime Service must take responsibility for the debt owed to the sub-contractors.
"The RMS has to fix things, they need to makes sure the contractors get their money,” she said.
"They have done the work and they deserve to get paid.
"In any other case if workers were not paid in this situation, it would be illegal.”
Ms Vithoulkas said the RMS and NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey's arguments against paying the contractors did not stand up.
"They're saying taxpayers should not have to pay twice, which is right,” she said.
"But the taxpayer also expects when their money is paid out, it is properly and legally handled so it goes to the people who did the work.
"When you pay money out and there is no evidence it has gone to pay the people who did the work, then you have to pay again.”
The Minister's office has denied the government was responsible for sub-contractors' non-payment.
A spokesman said the government intervening to pay workers would breach the contractual system.
He also dismissed contractors' claims the Minister promised to get them work on the highway, saying it would be illegal.