Opal Tower built for a ‘bargain price’

SUBCONTRACTORS working on the scandal-plagued Opal Tower were allegedly made to work for "bargain basement prices" and claim they were not paid on time.

Australian Subcontractors Association spokeswoman Louise Stewart told The Saturday Telegraph eight businesses claimed they were expected to build the tower for "unreasonable pay", and "when payment was due it was not forthcoming".

It can also be revealed one business tried to take legal action against the tower's builder Icon under the Security of Payments Act.

Subcontractors working on the Opal Tower claim they were expected to build the high-rise for “unreasonable pay”. Picture: John Appleyard
Subcontractors working on the Opal Tower claim they were expected to build the high-rise for “unreasonable pay”. Picture: John Appleyard

An Icon spokeswoman said the adjudicator had ruled in their favour.

Ms Stewart said some of the subcontractor businesses she had spoken to had issues with "variations" - additional work that had not been in the original contract.

"The project was very competitively priced, which then meant pressure was placed on subcontractors to provide their trade for bargain basement-type prices," Ms Stewart said.

"There is systematic poor workmanship in that project as the result of the competitive pricing to deliver that project, and as a result of the subcontractors to deliver for very low cost and challenges in getting paid for variations."

Residents of the Opal Tower at Olympic Park have a meeting with Opal Executives. Picture Chris Pavlich
Residents of the Opal Tower at Olympic Park have a meeting with Opal Executives. Picture Chris Pavlich

An Icon spokeswoman said they "categorically rejected" any claims of late payments to subcontractors. "Icon is one of the best payers in the business," she said. She said none of the variations were "unusual".

It comes as an interim briefing report released yesterday by two NSW government-­appointed engineers found "a number of design and construction issues".

A joint statement issued by Planning Minister Anthony Roberts' office and professors Mark Hoffman and John Carter said that "key information" was needed to complete the investigation, but that was expected by the end of the day.

They said investigations revealed "no evidence of any issues with the foundations of the building, though we believe that there are a number of design and construction issues that require further investigation". Mr Roberts said he believed any discussions on reoccupying the building should wait for the independent investigation's initial report, which was expected by the end of next week.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday said she "wholeheartedly" encouraged Opal Tower residents to explore legal options, as some considered launching a class action against the party responsible for the building's defects.

"I think residents should exercise every right, every legal opportunity they have - I would if I was in their shoes," Ms Berejiklian said.

Shine Lawyers head of class action Jan Saddler said the firm had been approached by a number of concerned owners and renters from Opal Tower.

Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts. Picture: Brendan Esposito
Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts. Picture: Brendan Esposito