Carpenter Steve Purcell on a job site at Ripley in Ipswich. Picture: Peter Wallis
Carpenter Steve Purcell on a job site at Ripley in Ipswich. Picture: Peter Wallis

Subbies bullied by ‘threatening’ builders

AN INQUIRY into the Queensland building industry would be welcomed by the state's subbies, who feel bullied by big building companies.

Gold Coast subcontractor Steve Purcell supports the Queensland LNP's pledge to hold a commission of inquiry into the industry, saying he believes intimidation, threats and bankruptcy have plagued the sector, leaving subcontractors vulnerable and out of pocket.

"They can be quite threatening if you don't do what they say sometimes," he said.

"There's no protection for us, no warning signs."

Mr Purcell believes that an industry probe could uncover the dodgy practices by construction companies, such as under-budgeting projects and purposefully holding retention that would never be paid.

Often, the 27-year-old has been left without pay after a building company has gone bust, with little legal avenues to reclaim some of his losses.

 

Carpenter Steve Purcell on a job site at Ripley in Ipswich. Picture: Peter Wallis
Carpenter Steve Purcell on a job site at Ripley in Ipswich. Picture: Peter Wallis

 

On one job, two building companies went bankrupt, leaving Mr Purcell at a loss of $36,000.

On another job he was owed $22,000 but the building company could not pay after construction.

But Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni has dismissed the LNP's plans, insisting the last thing subcontractors needed right now was a "lawyer fest".

He said the Government had already been listening to subbies and was acting.

He accused the LNP of landing subbies in the mess in which they had found themselves by winding back regulations in that space.

"There's already an inquiry under way," Mr de Brenni said.

"In 2017... we established the Building Industry Fairness Implementation and Evaluation Panel.

"That has been working with stakeholders. That has held public meetings across the state. It has had one-to-one consultation with developers, builders and subcontractors over many moths and it is due to report to government in March.

"Subcontractors don't need a lawyer fest for Government to be acting to make the industry fair."

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington, however, stuck to her pledge, insisting it was the best way to get to the bottom of the "broken system".