Sub contractors Leisa Tobin and Dan Tobin. Picture Glenn Hampson
Sub contractors Leisa Tobin and Dan Tobin. Picture Glenn Hampson

Company directors ‘must pay for what they’ve done’

A GOLD Coast company that was left more than $1 million out of pocket has welcomed a state-led inquiry into building industry rip-offs.

The State Government announcement yesterday it would appoint a special investigator to head a taskforce probing allegations of subbie rip-offs came after a long campaign by the Bulletin and other News Corp mastheads for a taskforce to look into more than 50 construction industry insolvencies since 2013, leaving total debts of $500 million owed to around 7000 creditors.

Dan and Leisa Tobin have already spent more than $250,000 on legal fees after their electrical engineering business, Civex, took on two big contracts totalling almost $3 million for work on the RAAF Amberley air base near Ipswich in 2016.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have each launched investigations into the case.

Yesterday the Tobins welcomed the announcement and said it was a strong first step to reforming the industry.

"It is great and long overdue. Something had to be done because subbies are getting ripped off and they are the backbone of this industry," Mr Tobin said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

"It is a start and hopefully it will not be just policies and they will follow through.

"I want to see some of these directors pay for what they have done. They have to be accountable."

The couple said Civex was subcontracted to the project by Fredon Qld Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of national building juggernaut Fredon Group, itself a subcontractor to Lend Lease and Laing O'Rourke for two RAAF base jobs.

They said all went well for several months, with Fredon paying their claims when submitted and work progressing as planned.

Labor Senator Murray Watt (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
Labor Senator Murray Watt (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

But just weeks from completion of one of the jobs, Fredon alleged Civex had made multiple safety breaches - a move Civex alleges was a tactic to avoid payments - and eventually terminated the contract.

The inquiry was officially announced in Parliament yesterday.

Gold Coast-based senator Murray Watt backed the state's move.

"It is one thing to have a law for the future but this means some people will finally be prosecuted for these rip-offs," he said.