SHOW US THE MONEY: Deputy premier targeted
SUB-CONTRACTORS chasing $7.3million in unpaid invoices will have just one question for NSW deputy premier John Barilaro today: where's our money?
The deputy premier has been visiting the North Coast over the weekend and will be in Grafton today for a visit which includes a $50 a head National Party fundraising dinner tonight at Vines Restaurant.
The government has come under fire from all sides of politics for its tardiness in helping 23 local Pacific Highway sub-contractors left out of pocket from the collapse of Queensland construction firm Ostwald Bros in August last year.
The NSW Opposition has castigated the government's handing of the case and last week the former National Party Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell joined the criticism.
A spokeswoman for the Wave 5 Contractors, Jo Franklin, said she wanted to talk to Mr Barilaro.
"If we can we would like to ask him why the report from the Small Business Commissioner, Robyn Hobbes is still not public," Ms Franklin said.
"The government has made a lot out the commissioner investigating our issues.
"The report is complete, yet we're not able to see it."
Ms Franklin understood the commissioner's report was likely to include recommendations similar to those in a report the government received in 2012, the Independent Inquiry into Construction Industry Insolvency in NSW, headed by Bruce Collins QC.
"The Government didn't accept the recommendations outlined in the Collins Report in 2012, recommendations that would have saved us today," she said.
"Now we're hearing Robyn is going to make recommendations similar to those in the Collins report.
"Surely that has to indicate this government has a responsibility to the contractors who are owed this money."
Ms Franklin said the Wave 5 group was also buoyed by the comments from Mr Cansdell.
"He's saying what we've been saying all along," she said. "The Ostwald Bros was not the company that didn't pay.
"Seymour Whyte did not pay Ostwald Bros for their July invoices and for work done in August. All up that amounts to more than $11million.
"The Supreme Court has put about half of that into escrow after it found that Seymour Whyte should have paid Ostwald Bros for the July invoices, even though they were in administration.
"The NSW Government is in the best position to get a political solution to this problem."