The Weekend West, 6.8.16:
The Federal Government could be forced to introduce laws guaranteeing subcontractors are paid for their work if it is to deliver on its election promise to reinstate a union-busting construction industry watchdog.
Influential crossbench senator Nick Xenophon said he would insist on extra protections for subcontractors when the Australian Building Construction Commission legislation came before the Senate.
“I won’t support any legislation unless security of payments for subcontractors is tied in,” he told The Weekend West.
The Government may, need support from the Nick Xenophon Team to pass the Bill, which was used by Prime Mister Malcolm Turnbull as a trigger for an early, double dissolution election.
Senator Xenophon said he wanted the Government to act on a report from the Senate’s economic references committee, which in December warned that there was a “completely unacceptable culture of non-payment of subcontractors”.
The committee called for a national security of payments regime, a rapid adjudication process and for the introduction of project bank accounts to protect payments due. to subcontractors and reduce insolvencies in the industry.
Senator Xenophon referred to his comments during debate on the’ABCC Bill in April, when he supported a second reading of the legislation but said the conunittee’s report could not be ignored, given’ widespread “bullying and intimidation” of subcontractors.
The Government faces internal pressure for action Nationals senator John Williams from NSW, said it was “just rotten” that subcontractors were left out of pocket when a head contractor collapsed.
“We need to make surd the subbies get paid for their work,” Senator Williams said.