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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Why were highway subcontractors left without pay for almost a year?

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Some subcontractors working on the Pacific Highway upgrade have remained unpaid for almost a year following the collapse of contractor Oswald Bros. Photo RMS website

Labor candidate for Ballina, Asren Pugh, has welcomed reports that Pacific Highway subcontractors affected by the collapse Oswald Bros last year would finally be getting financial assistance from the NSW Government for work they did on the upgrade.

But he has lashed out at the amount of time it has taken the government to organise the payout.

‘These 23 local subcontractors were left over $7.2 million dollars out of pocket when Oswald Bros collapsed into administration. Some have already lost their homes, jobs and businesses,’ Mr Pugh said.

‘They were left unprotected after the NSW Government and the Nationals failed to fully implement the recommendations of the Collins inquiry.’

NSW Nationals leader and deputy premier, John Barrilaro, met with the group yesterday, promising financial assistance.

Mr Barrilaro admitted to local media there had been delays but blamed them on ‘legal complexitites’.

The final report of the Independent Inquiry into Construction Industry Insolvency, chaired by Bruce Collins QC, was released in January 2013.

But Mr Pugh says the government has yet to commit to fully implementing recommendations that would have protected small businesses.

‘This announcement has been a long time coming and it should never have come to this. I am glad that these small businesses will be getting some financial assistance and I will be following up to make sure they are happy with the outcome.’ Mr Pugh said.

‘This stuff up by the Government has already cost many of these businesses too much, with some forced to sell machinery on the cheap, some forced to sell their homes and others put under extreme financial hardship. It has now cost the NSW taxpayer too.’

‘Labor has stood by these subbies until they got paid, taking their plight up in the media, running a community petition and meeting with them in parliament. This is what effective oppositions do, they stand up for those that are dealing with an uncaring and incompetent government.’

‘It is now time for the Nationals to make sure this never happens again. It is time to change the law to protect subbies like these,’ Mr Pugh said.

Speaking on ABC radio this morning, Mr Barrilaro failed to make any such guarantee, but said, ‘even in the last weeks… each and every time we thought we’d resolved it there was another issue.’

‘The last thing we wanted to do was rush a decision that somehow resulted in a claw-back of payments or, more importantly, didn’t actually get a resolution for these subbies.’


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1 COMMENT

  1. Once again corporate law protects the grubby profit takers. Who are the “Oswald Bros”? How much money did they take out of the company before the collapse? This is Turnbull’s world of limited liability and corporate trickery. The legal concept of limited liability represents a Harry Potter Cloak for business operaters.

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