STILL UNPAID: Contractors Gary and Jo Fenner are no closer to being paid for highway work.
STILL UNPAID: Contractors Gary and Jo Fenner are no closer to being paid for highway work. Adam Hourigan

Heat rises in Parliament over money owed to subbies

THE gloves came off in Macquarie Street today with Premier Gladys Berejiklian called "heartless" by Opposition Leader Luke Foley.

The comment came while NSW Parliament was discussing the plight of 23 North Coast businesses owed more than $7 million for work done on the Ballina to Woolgoolga section of the Pacific Highway Motorway.

The sub-contractors undertook work to dig and grade the road but have not been paid because the company they were directly contracted to, Ostwald Brothers, went into liquidation in August 2017.

A promise was later made by Pacific Complete - the State Government-appointed consortium responsible for the project's delivery - that all subcontractors would be paid.

Today the Labor Opposition raised the plight of the local families, many of whom are facing extreme financial hardship, but the Premier refused to answer a question of whether she would pay the families for their work.

Ms Berejiklian said Roads and Maritime Services was working with the Small Business Commissioner to ensure everyone was paid in a "timely fashion."

Mr Foley said the sub-contractors have been waiting eight months for their money.

"Why can't the Premier just do the right thing by these subcontractors and pay them for the work they have done for her roads agency?" he asked.

"Rather than hide behind the bureaucracy and process she should just step in and end their anguish.

"They deserve better than to be put through the wringer by this heartless government.

"She can't find the money to pay these families who are struggling to make ends meet."



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