Special investigators enlisted by the Palaszczuk government will start work to expose alleged fraudulent activity by a number of major Queensland construction companies that have left thousands of Queensland subcontractors out of pocket.
The Special Joint Taskforce, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Justice John Byrne, will undertake a forensic examination of the circumstances surrounding allegations of “white-collar crime” in the Queensland building industry.
Investigators will travel to Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast and Toowoomba, and Brisbane, to conduct face-to face interviews with subcontractors who have been ripped-off.
The Taskforce will also be accepting submissions from the public via portal, email and post until mid-May, with a final report and recommendations due to state government by late-June.
“Any individual who has engaged in illegal, fraudulent activity so they can rob subbies of their hard-earned money should be very worried right now,” the Premier said.
“Every tradie deserves confidence they will be paid in full, on time, every time for the work they perform.”
“As soon as the taskforce team collects enough evidence to support criminal charges, they will immediately refer the matter to the relevant prosecuting authorities.”
Since 2013 there have been 50 construction industry insolvencies across Queensland that left close to 7,000 subcontractors $500 million out of pocket.
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said information guidelines have been created to assist people with the process.
“We will continue to roll out our landmark building industry fairness reforms that are protecting and supporting tradies across the state.
“These include new mandatory financial reporting requirements that give the industry regulator a direct line of sight to companies that may be in trouble.
“Importantly, if a company tries to mislead the regulator, they will face significant penalties which include licence suspensions, fines and even jail.”
Last month, opposition leader Bill Shorten promised a “tradie pay guarantee” as part of his campaign pledge, saying he wants to stop illegal “phoenix activities” within the industry.
If elected, corporate regulator ASIC would receive $7 million to fund cases against dodgy firms and help enforce laws against phoenix activity which is estimated to cost the economy more than $5 billion per year.