The News Ltd Back Our Subbies campaign has helped raise awareness about serious problems in the Queensland construction industry.
The News Ltd Back Our Subbies campaign has helped raise awareness about serious problems in the Queensland construction industry.

The big chance for subbies to right past wrongs

SUBCONTRACTORS have been urged to step up and tell their stories of alleged fraud to the Special Taskforce into building industry wrong doing.

Civil contractor Les Williams of Coolum, whose own business WK Civil was left unpaid $800,000 following the liquidation of Walton Construction Queensland in 2013, said the task force which opened for business this week was the opportunity for justice subbies across the state had been seeking.

As head of the Subcontractors Alliance, he has become a powerful advocate for payment security in the industry, legislative reform and justice for those wronged by fraudulent and other illegal activity.

A News Ltd Back Our Subbies campaign in February highlighted the impact on more than 7000 trade small businesses of well in excess of 60 big builders who went into liquidation owing over half a billion dollars.

Mr William said he had met this week with taskforce head Justice John Byrne as well as the police and public prosecutions senior representatives who would guide its work and was convinced they were serious about exposing wrong doing.

"I have concerns that some subbies may still feel intimidated by the power imbalance in the contractual chain," he said.

"But they should be certain their submissions would remain confidential. This is the one opportunity we have and it won't be repeated.

"It is extremely important that subbies take this opportunity.

"We know a lot of people who have been affected have moved on and resurrected their businesses but what has been done to them needs to be dealt with.

"A lot of resources are being put into this. People can make submissions in their own words.

"Subcontractors Alliance is making a call to arms. The Back Our Subbies series showed the extent of the problem.

"I know there's still some cynicism but I'm satisfied the taskforce is serious about these matters.

"But it can't act without the information."

John Goddard, head of the Brisbane-based Subbies United, said the taskforce was the best thing to happen in the industry for the past 30 years.

"We really want subbies to participate," he said. "Most who have been caught will want to do that. I've sent out lists of companies in our Hall of Shame that have damaged them.

"You don't need to be a record scientist to be involved. You just need to say what happened to you in your own words.

"This is a huge opportunity for subcontractors and suppliers to right past wrongs."

Submissions to the taskforce opened on Wednesday.

The Special Taskforce can be contacted through the following link which includes a full explanation on how to make a submission.