Fury at Minister's silence over subbies' cries for help
FURY among the Pacific Highway subcontractors at the lack of response from NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey has reached boiling point.
A group representing 23 sub-contractors left with $7.5 million in unpaid invoices when construction company Ostwald Brothers collapsed in August said they have lost all confidence in the Minister.
The group, calling itself Wave 5 Contractors, said the Minister had publicly made offers of help to the contractors, but failed to follow through.
A spokesperson for the group said Ms Pavey had not responded to any of the group's emails.
The Wave 5 experience mirrors The Daily Examiner's experience with the Minister and her office in the past week.
The Examiner made two offers to Ms Pavey for an interview and emailed her asking for a comment on comments from the NSW Opposition spokesperson for small business, Jenny Aitchison about the contractors' claims.
The only response has been a call from a media officer on her staff to dispute claims from the contractors they had been unable to get work on the highway upgrade.
Ms Aitchison accused the government of abandoning the contractors.
"The Coalition Government often proclaims that they are the 'party of small business'," she said.
"Why are they refusing to implement protections for vulnerable sub-contractors who are struggling to pay their employees because of their unpaid work on a NSW Government project?"
She said the ALP had gone to the 2015 election with a policy that would have protected sub-contractors from these kind of losses, based on recommendations of the 2013 inquiry chaired by Bruce Collins QC.
"The key protection that Labor sought to implement was the mandating of trust fund arrangements by law to ensure that payments flowed through the whole chain of contracting and sub-contracting.," Ms Aitchison said.
The Minister was asked to comment but has not replied.
Late yesterday the Wave 5 Contractors group said sub-contractors had begun to complain of late payments for work done in February.
"They're worried after what happened with Ostwald that this is a sign the same thing is happening again and they're not going to get paid," the spokesperson said.
Any contractor who has not been paid on time for work on the Pacific Highway can contact Tim Howard at The Daily Examiner on 66430545.