Election call to arms for subbies

Posted April 27, 2016

Malcolm Turnbull

Subcontractors have been urged to take heart from the actions of owner-operator truck drivers who successfully pushed to scrap the controversial Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal via a public awareness campaign.

The campaign, which culminated in a convoy of trucks rolling into Canberra, combined with the impending election signalled a call to arms for subcontractors and suppliers to the construction industry, Subcontractors Alliance chairman Les Williams said.

Minister Malcolm Turnbull has put in motion a double dissolution election on July 2 after Australian Building and Construction Commission reforms were rejected for a second time by the senate in Canberra.

Mr Williams has completed the alliance’s policy statement and is urging alliance supporters to contact their federal MPs and senators to find out just where they stand on the security of payment issue.

He wants copies of the policy statement delivered to the offices of federal politicians right across the country.

“There are over 90,000 subcontractors and small businesses servicing the construction industry in Queensland and over 400,000 Australia-wide,” Mr Williams said.

“That’s a lot of people who vote. If 35,000 owner-drivers can talk the Federal Government into scrapping a tribunal which they saw as a threat to their livelihood, why can’t we do the same?”

Board members of the alliance started lobbying federal politicians months ago but have stepped up their efforts in recent weeks as the double dissolution looked more likely.

Mr Williams said he and other board members had received positive feedback but it was up to alliance supporters right across Australia to build pressure on the politicians like the owner drivers have successfully done.

The alliance policy statement can be downloaded at: Subbies Alliance_POLICY DOCUMENT 1

Security of payment conditions are covered by state legislation but Mr Williams said federal politicians still had a vital role to play.

“The report from the recently held Senate Economics Committee Inquiry into Insolvency in the Australian Construction Industry has made 44 recommendations and we want all of those recommendations implemented,” he said.

“Of these recommendations, two mark a sea change in the Commonwealth’s role in regulating payment practices in the industry. The first of these is the recommendation that the Commonwealth enact uniform, national legislation for a security of payment regime and rapid adjudication process in the commercial construction industry.”

Mr Williams said the alliance wanted that extended to domestic construction, as subcontractors were badly affected in this space also, and the implementation timeframe for the legislation fast-tracked.

“It’s amazing that they (Federal Government) could react to the owner-truck drivers in a matter of weeks,” he said.

“National, uniform legislation is required to stop the continued erosion of subcontractors’ rights by state-based peak industry groups seeking and gaining improper preferential treatment for main contractors.

“We have called for an investigation into the impact of the influence over Queensland legislation by ‘peak industry’ groups. We believe that process may well be under way.’’


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