Desperate subbies menaced by mental health issues

Posted March 30, 2016

©Roslyn Budd -

Subcontractors seem to be plagued by problems. Other people’s problems.

This includes insolvency, unjustified payment delays and improper use of retention money.

The Subcontractors Alliance has been chipping away at the granite edifice of indifference and bureaucracy for more than two years.

They melded as an advocacy group with the Walton Construction collapse that left hundreds of trade service and supply business owners with combined debts of more than $60 million.

Members are from disparate backgrounds. Kylie McIlroy has a block-laying business in Townsville; Les Williams has a civil contracting company on the Sunshine Coast and Juanita Gibson runs a tilt panel business in Brisbane.

Kylie and Les with their partners lost more than $900,000 between them when Walton Construction registered for receivership.

A blow like that can only happen once said Ms McIlroy.

“As businesspeople we are proud and you like to think you do your best and run a tight ship,” Ms McIlroy said. “So to lose everything is devastating.

“There’s a perception in the community that subbies are poor businesspeople and in some way deserve what they get.

“However, a lot of it is out of our control. When the terms of payment are 30 days from the end of the month the invoice is lodged, a lot can and does happen.

“We’ve been contacted by the owner of a crane business in south-western Queensland who did all the checks he could have been expected to do and had it signed off by a solicitor as best business practice.

“He was eventually taken down in two bouts of $100,000 losses. It got to the stage where he was looking to see if his ife insurance covered suicide. That just floored me to see how desperate some subcontractors are getting.”

Alliance members acknowledge the State Government is addressing the issue with a ‘security of payments’ listening roadshow held in centres throughout the state this year.

The Alliance will be holding them accountable, said Ms McIlroy.

“We’re hearing all the right noises from (Housing and Public Works Minister) Mick de Brenni but subcontractors have been battling this for decades,” she said.

There were an estimated 490,000-plus subcontractors in the country - which was a significant force should they be focused, Ms McIlroy said.

Search for further information on the Subcontractors Alliance at

3 responses to “Desperate subbies menaced by mental health issues”

  1. Yep
    Know the feeling, I got done by multiple builders and others for 250K so it was not a good feeling, I also was seriously ill and advised to take months off work but had to work through it to keep business and family safe. It is about time we were looked after, builders need to be totally accountable for their actions and not walk away and start up again 3 years later. My Godfather a builder went broke and I couldn’t tell my mother till my father died as it was one of his best friends. Did the builder care? Of course fucking not@! and he had the audacity to come back and ask me to contract to him again@! fuck off !
    I think funds need to be in an Escrow type trust so we get paid. I have had enough!

  2. John Beldan says:

    That’s terrible Nicolas there is so many stories the same that’s why this is a great platform for subbies to share there stories and start supporting each other the more we stick together this will gather momentum.

  3. Angela van der Kruyssen says:

    A subcontractor friend of ours committed suicide last year before Christmas due to the stress of not getting paid. His widow is fighting for this money in adjudication at the moment. There are no words to describe these people who hide behind these companies and there policies. Its inhumane.

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