The NSW Labor Opposition has slammed Deputy Premier John Barilaro for his continued failure to pay the stranded North Coast subcontractors waiting to get paid $7.3 million and has launched a petition to bring the issue on in State Parliament.

In his guise as Small Business Minister Mr Barilaro visited the area last weekend raising hopes that he would finally deliver and pay the 23 subcontractors who have worked on the Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina.

Shadow Minister for Small Business, Jenny Aitchison and Labor’s candidate for Clarence, Trent Gilbert said Mr Barilaro’s visit was nothing more than a ‘cruel hoax’.

When Mr Barilaro was interviewed by ABC radio over the weekend he indicated that it was not the State Government’s responsibility to bear the cost of moneys owed to subcontractors who worked on the State Government project.

Former Federal National Party MP Ian Causley and former National Party State Member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell have both thrown their support behind the local subbies and have called for justice.

Labor Leader Luke Foley has taken the plight of the small businesses right to the door of the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government, asking questions of the Premier in Parliament and receiving a delegation in Macquarie Street.

Labor today launches a petition calling on the Liberal-National Government to do the right thing and ensure the small businesses are properly paid for the work they have done and put in place legislation that implements the outstanding recommendations of the Collins Inquiry which would have ensured these contractors were paid in the first place.

Copies of the petition can be signed online or downloaded from:

Quotes attributable to Shadow Small Business Minister Jenny Aitchison

“This is a Liberal National Government which is happy to splurge billions of dollars on stadiums in Sydney and cost blow outs to foreign companies on Sydney projects, but can’t cough up $7.3 million for struggling families on the mid north coast.

“The Premier and every one of her Liberal Nationals Ministers have been completely heartless and arrogant, blaming the victims for not being paid. Not one of them has made a commitment to assist these people in the last nine months.

“This project has been a road to ruin for the 23 small business people, their families, their employees, and their communities, ripping out over $7 million hard earned dollars from their pockets, leaving them unpaid, losing their retirement incomes, their children going without and losing their businesses.

“The Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight needs to do her due diligence when it comes to announcing joint ventures rather than blaming those further down the chain when her agency’s preferred contractors have gone broke.

“The Liberals Nationals had the opportunity to stop this happening by implementing the recommendations of the 2012 Collins Inquiry. They have failed and now 23 small businesses, their families, their employees and their communities are going to suffer.”

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