QUEENSLAND has setup a Special Joint Taskforce to investigation allegations of white-collar crime in the state’s building industry.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the taskforce would conduct a forensic examination of the circumstances surrounding the collapse of a number of major construction companies and re-test historical claims of fraud.
The special taskforce will be headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Justice John Byrne.
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“The subbies who have been left out of pocket are mums and dads and small business people left to the whims and mercies of bigger operators who too often leave their subbies in the lurch,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“I have met many of them. I have listened to their stories of hardship and loss and the fact they felt no-one is listening.”
The Premier said Justice Byrne would be joined by Queensland Police and investigators from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, as well as prosecutors from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“I urge anyone who has a complaint about dodgy payments to come forward now and have their grievances heard,” she said.
“The non-payment of subbies is not something that stops at the Queensland border, so I have also written to the Prime Minister to have this issue added to the national agenda.”
Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said the Government would continue to roll out its landmark building industry fairness reforms that are already helping ensure everyone in the building industry is paid on time, in full, every time.
“I’ve met first-hand with hundreds of builders and subcontractors whose lives have been torn apart by a broken system,” Mr de Brenni said.
“A system broken under the previous LNP government when they removed mandatory financial reporting for the big end of town. The LNP’s absurd changes to financial self-reporting opened the door to abhorrent practices in the industry.
“Queensland Labor, with backing from the building industry, is well down the path to delivering strong payment protections.
“We’ve strengthened the building industry regulator’s capacity to investigate company collapses and we’ve reinstated mandatory financial reporting for the big end of town.
“We’ve given the QBCC a direct line of sight to companies that may be in trouble.
“And, importantly, should a company try to hide or mislead the QBCC, it can impose a penalty including imprisonment.”
Police Minister Mark Ryan said the taskforce would also consider if there are sufficient and appropriate investigative and supervisory powers to deal with the conduct disclosed in the matters reviewed.
“We want to ensure the powers at the disposal of the police and the QBCC are as strong and effective they can be,” he said.