SA-BEST commits to state’s building industry in time of need

28 May 2019

SA-BEST announced today it will move to legislate key recommendations of a major Federal Government review into security of payment laws for building industry subcontractors to ensure they get paid on time.

It has also backed calls by the Master Builders Association of SA for better financial training and support for builders and other tradespeople in the sector.

SA-BEST MLC and Attorney-General spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, warned that the sector’s employees needed better protection and safeguards as it faced one of the biggest challenges in its history.

Her warning follows the collapse last week of Coast to Coast Homes – the seventh SA builder to close its doors in six months.

“It is no secret the state’s crucial building industry is in crisis and needs support in a time of great need,” Connie said.

“Despite several pleas from the sector for the government to embrace a range of initiatives to bolster the local building industry – including a bold five point plan by the Master Builders Association - it has done nothing," she said.

“Instead, the government has preferred to sit back and watch as more builders have closed their doors - at the expense of dozens of jobs - and left many subcontractors tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

“The building sector is crucial to the state’s economy – and in a lot of ways is a barometer to the health of our economy.

“In SA, the building and construction industry directly employs around 70,000 people and undertakes about $16 billion of work each year.

“When it is struggling, the rest of the state’s economy is struggling.”

Connie said she will legislate the SA relevant recommendations of a review undertaken by John Murray - a specialist in resolving building contract disputes and security of payment legislation – in 2017.

The Federal Government commissioned Mr Murray to review and improve consistency in security of payment laws for subcontractors and enhance protections to ensure they get paid on time.

The review was released publicly in May 2018 and made 86 recommendations to improve consistency in security of payment legislation and enhance protections to ensure subcontractors get paid on time for work they have done - regardless of which state or territory they operate in.

To date, the Federal Government has still not responded to the report.

Key amongst these is the recommendation to make security of payment laws nationally consistent - which is modelled on the NSW security of payment legislation and introduced in SA in 2009.

Connie said while she was heartened by comments from Treasurer Rob Lucas that some assistance for the sector is likely in next month’s State Budget, more needed to be done.

“At the end of the day, individual states are responsible for laws governing security of payment – but these laws could be nationally consistent with the Federal Government introducing uniform, national legislation,” Connie said.

“I will introduce legislation as soon as practical to legislate the SA relevant recommendations of the Murray review to ensure our laws are tightened so that subcontractors are given better protection to being paid on time,” she said.

“That said, there are further improvements to the scheme that could be made to protect subbies and other workers when building companies collapse.

“We believe a national approach is required and SA-BEST will work with our Federal Centre Alliance colleagues to advocate strongly for that to occur.”

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