Shadow Minister for Small Business, Jenny Aitchison has slammed the Nationals Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, for his continuing failure to stand-up for subcontractors affected by the Ostwald Brothers collapse.
The Labor Opposition met with 11 sub-contractors last Sunday who are seeking repayment of $7.3 million owed to them for work completed on the Pacific Complete Project, and action by government to stop similar collapses from happening again.
The collapse has caused business failures, job losses, loss of retirement incomes and houses, and untold distress for so many families, employees and suppliers of the 23 subcontractors involved.
The Liberal and National Government failed to implement the recommendations of the 2012 Collins Inquiry which called for the establishment of trusts to protect subcontractors down the chain.
Speaking with Jo Shoebridge ABC North Coast radio today Mr Gulaptis failed to support the subcontractors still waiting to be paid for work they’ve done on the Pacific Highway upgrade. Mr Gulaptis appeared to throw doubt on the completion of the work by the subcontractors saying:
“If Ostwald Brothers haven’t completed their contract with Seymour Whyte, then Seymour Whyte have no obligation to pay them.”
Mr Gulaptis indicated it was too hard for Government to assist the subcontractors because they were “three links down the chain and it’s very difficult to administer such a complex contract arrangement”.
Mr Gulaptis again tried to shift government accountability onto the Government’s appointed delivery partner, Pacific Complete, saying:
“If they failed to do their job, then they should pay.”
Mr Gulaptis also appeared to be ignorant of some of the key issues in this case, including a recent court judgement which indicated that Seymour Whyte did not pay Ostwald Brothers for their July or August payments.
Quotes Attributable to Shadow Minister for Small Business Jenny Aitchison
“That’s twice in less than 24 hours that Mr Gulaptis has failed his local sub-contractors. Instead of supporting my motion in Parliament yesterday to focus the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government on the sub-contractors’ plight, Mr Gulaptis sided with his Sydney-centric colleagues.”
“The affected subcontractors have done work on a vital road safety improvement for the state of New South Wales and deserve to be paid because the job has been done.”
“The local member continues to blame the victims, Ostwald Brothers, and even Pacific Complete, anyone other than his own Government for this failure, when we know that they had the chance to fix this legislation after the Collins Inquiry in 2012.”
“Those comments are a huge slap in the face for the local companies involved and their workers who are now struggling because the State Government won’t accept it has a responsibility to ensure payment on a major infrastructure project.”
“The Berejiklian-Barilaro Government is happy to pay $2.2 billion for stadiums to be rebuilt in Sydney, and billions of dollars in cost blowouts on Sydney projects to foreign companies, but when it comes to paying our own local sub-contractors $7.3 million, they just want to start blaming the victims.”