In a statement posted on its web site earlier this week, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) has called for organisations or individuals to make confidential submissions to a Special Joint Taskforce which is charged with investigating allegations of white collar crime within the state’s building industry.
Submissions can be made in confidence up until 5pm on Friday May 17.
Announced by the Government in February, the Taskforce is being headed by retired Supreme Court Judge John Byrne and will involve detectives from Queensland Police, investigators from the QBCC and prosecutors from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Its role is to investigate matters and complaints about allegations of fraudulent behaviour relating to building subcontractor non-payment and to refer any potential criminal matters to relevant authorities.
The Taskforce will also consider whether or not there are sufficient and appropriate investigative and supervisory powers to deal with the conduct disclosed and/or matters reviewed and will provide recommendations by June 30.
The latest developments come as workers and subcontractors in Queensland’s building industry continue to suffer losses when builders become insolvent.
All up, data from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission indicates that 1,436 construction related companies entered into external administration last year – 281 of which were Queensland based.
When announcing the Taskforce’s creation in February, Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk told Parliament that it would conduct a forensic examination of the circumstances surrounding the collapse of a number of major Queensland construction companies and re-test historical claims of fraud.
Palaszczuk said the impact of fraud against subcontractors should not be underestimated.
“The subbies who have been left out of pocket are mums and dads and small business people left to the whims and mercies of bigger operators who too often leave their subbies in the lurch,” she said.
“I have met many of them. I have listened to their stories of hardship and loss and the fact they felt no-one is listening.”