26 March 2024

Who's going to build the 1.2 million homes? Pocock calls on government to protect subcontractors

| Ian Bushnell
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Senator David Pocock and subcontractors at Parliament House: government has the solution but lacks the will. Photo: Facebook.

ACT Senator David Pocock has joined union leaders in penning a letter to federal ministers calling for action to help subcontractors after a disastrous couple of months for the ACT building industry in which four firms have folded.

The building industry crisis is nationwide, with developers and builders facing escalating material and labour costs and shrinking profit margins in a tightened lending environment.

However, sub-contractors are often left out of pocket when a building company goes into administration.

The letter to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, and the Arts, Tony Burke, and Science and Industry Minister, Ed Husic, calls on the Federal Government to implement the recommendations of the 2018 Murray Review of Security of Payment Laws to protect the interests of subcontractors.

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Senator Pocock also held a press conference at Parliament House flanked by subcontractors.

He accused the government of lacking the political will to stand up for subcontractors who were doing work and not getting paid.

“The government is making bold statements about 1.2 million homes over the next five years,” he said.

“Well, who’s going to build them? Who’s going to build them if we aren’t looking after tradies in this country?”

Senator Pocock said Labor needed to step up and introduce security of payment laws.

One partner in a small concreting business, Leanne Foresti from Foresti Pty Ltd, said developers and contractors consistently and deliberately pushed back payment times from 30 days to 40, 50, and even 90 days.

“This forces us into precarious positions with our suppliers, employees and the ATO,” she said.

“But it is the families that bear the brunt of the impact on our mental, emotional and physical health.”

Ms Foresti said legal action was costly, stressful and time-consuming.

“So we hang on, counting on the developers, builders and contractors to do the right thing, and right now they’re not,” she said.

She said that with tight profit margins, companies should manage their finances more cautiously.

“But in reality, they’re caught in a cycle of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” she said.

“Many are trading while insolvent and go bankrupt owing millions of dollars to subcontractors.”

She said subbies were tired – tired of being forgotten.

“The government must, as a matter of urgency, do more to protect subbies, their families and the future of the construction industry in Australia,” she said.

The letter is also signed by CFMEU Construction & General Division National Secretary & ACT Branch Secretary Zach Smith, Electrical Trades Union of Australia Secretary Michael Wright, and Oliver Judd, CEO of the National Electrical and Communications Association.

It says insolvencies are increasing, subcontractors are missing out on huge sums of money and the results can be devastating, even to the point of some taking their own lives.

“In the second half of last year we witnessed a 37 per cent increase in insolvencies with more than a quarter of those being construction businesses,” the letter says.

“This trend has continued this year. It is particularly acute here in the ACT. Since 2021-22 there has been a sharp increase in insolvencies, both generally and in the construction sector.

“In the 12 months to February this year, 146 companies have gone into administration and 48 of those have been in the construction sector.”

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The letter says the Murray Review sets out a blueprint for reform and implementing its recommendations must be a priority.

“We urge the Federal Government to end years of inaction and urgently step in with stronger national security of payment laws to finally put an end to tradies being left out of pocket.

“These and other reforms contained in the Murray Review will help put the construction sector on a more sustainable footing going forward.”

The Federal Government says it is working with the states and territories to implement the laws in each jurisdiction.

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William Newby7:47 pm 27 Mar 24

There will NEVER be 1.2 million new homes it’s a pipe dream.
But you can bet your donkey next year there will be another 1.2 million migrants!
Labor has sold far too many tickets to this theme park, and now we all must wait in long queues for everything.

Short answer is Pocock, no one is going to build 1.2 million homes in Australia. It’s NEVER been done before and that’s because it’s impossible (& you know that). This is ALP lies and spin to justify the ridiculous levels of UNSUSTAINABLE immigration this ALP Government has forced on all Australians. 120,000 homes were built last year total in Australia. This year is projected to be less at around 90,000 to 100,000 homes. Then we learn last week that for the year 2024 the ALP will let 700,000 immigrants into Australia. So in two short years the shortfall in new housing will be approaching 1,000,000 homes. Now there’s planning for you, ALP style.

Pocock the extreme left hypocrite. He and the Communist Australian Greens threw an absolute tantrum this week in Parliament when the ALP rushed through their immigration restrictions bill for countries that won’t except their criminals back and he has opposed every single other change that restricts immigration. Mr Pocock excessive immigration is what has caused the current housing crisis in Australia. Australia is heading for 700,000 legal irrivals in 2024 and they will have nowhere to live. So again Mr Pocock…….HYPOCRITE!

Pssst, Rob. You do know that after supporting the passage of the Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024 in the House of Representatives, the Coalition and Greens teamed up in the Senate to delay it for at least six weeks for a further inquiry – the Coalition stating that Labor had failed to make the case for the bill’s urgency.

Oh dear, Rob, perhaps Pocock and the “Communist Australian Greens” weren’t alone in throwing a tantrum.?

There was nothing principled shown by any member of the Liberal or Labor parties in the failed passage of the Immigration Restriction Bill. The senate backdown of the bill is all thanks to the biggest hypocrite of all, Liberal Senator James Patterson. Senator Patterson teamed up and sought agreement with (your words) the Communist Australian Greens and extreme left hypocrite David Pocock to delay and ensure the policy’s demise and embarrass the Labor government. This was despite his party voting in support of the policy in the lower house the day before.

And another thing Rob, you seem to be way off count with that “700,000 legal irrivals in 2024”!

Tom Worthington1:51 pm 27 Mar 24

If governments were to provide financial incentives for more modest homes to be built, using advanced manufacturing techniques, Australia would have enough trained people to build the homes, & the money to pay for them. Having bespoke homes with wasted space, built one at a time using crafts-persons doubles the price.

Stephen Saunders7:46 am 27 Mar 24

While the government “makes statements” about 1.2m homes over five years, what they’ve actually done is 1m migration over two years. 60-70% higher than Rudd.

But, like the Greens, Senator Pocock will never discuss the latter. Wouldn’t dare.

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