Tradies call for rescue after builder collapse
Tradies caught out by the collapse of National Buildplan Group have called for a financial "rescue" package and an investigation into the failure of the company.
The call comes as administrators struggle to sort through the construction company's finances, with unsecured creditors including tradies, subcontractors and suppliers owed at least $18 million when National Buildplan entered administration in early April.
The petition has been sent to federal independent MP Tony Windsor by legal firm Everingham Solomons, which represents a number of subcontractors in the NSW city of Tamworth.
"The subcontractors' aims are to seek a financial package for stranded subcontractors and their employees," solicitor Terry Robinson wrote.
"Notwithstanding that it was well recognised that the industry required urgent reform, such reform and protections were not put in place and once again small business and their employees are being asked to suffer the consequences."
Administrators BRI Ferrier estimate the company owes $30 million to creditors. Citing the size, complexity and "incomplete" records, BRI Ferrier received a 30-day extension this month to continue its investigation.
Some subcontractors are concerned their businesses are at risk if they do not receive an immediate government payment or assistance. "It's put us in a very precarious position," said Matt Halpin of Halpin Plumbing, whose Tamworth company is owed $481,000.
The letter calls for an independent investigation into National Buildplan's collapse, alleging negligence on the part of government departments responsible for managing the contracts.
"The subcontractors are clearly asking the question as to whether New South Wales and/or the Commonwealth government was aware of the impending financial collapse ... and if so, why action was not taken at an earlier time to protect government projects and to protect subcontractors," Mr Robinson wrote.
It cites several incidents where subcontractors walked off projects due to non-payment, and questions why National Buildplan continued to receive government money when obligations to subcontractors were not being met.
Mr Windsor said it was likely calls for compensation would "fall on deaf ears" unless negligence on the part of a government department could be proved.
"We want to find out who knew what and when before the collapse," he said. "There's definitely some questions to be answered."
The NSW Department of Finance and Services, and Health Infrastructure, which managed many of the biggest contracts, said they had no knowledge the company was in financial trouble before it entered administration.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @chrisvedelago