No satisfaction for subbies

Security costs at the unfinished Harbour Dr housing block are skyrocketing.
Security costs at the unfinished Harbour Dr housing block are skyrocketing. BRUCE THOMAS

SUBBIES and suppliers left out of pocket by the collapse of Perle Pty Ltd have 700,000 reasons to be even angrier with the way they’ve been treated.

That’s how many taxpayers dollars have allegedly been forked out to pay for 24/7 security on the worksites of Coffs Harbour’s bungled public housing development, and two other stalled government unit blocks in Wollongong.

The round-the-clock patrols have been paid for since the collapse of the State Government-contracted building company.

Part of the reason they are in place is to stop out-of-pocket local tradies, owed $1.639 million, from returning to the Harbour Dr worksite to recover materials, for which they have not yet been paid.

Six months since local sub-contractors blockaded the project and the maths have been done, raising questions why the money has not been better spent.

Spokesman for the subbies, Pip Bennett, said it’s assumed the security firm has charged the State Government the going rate of $45 an hour for day and night surveillance at the three worksites.

And it’s now 234 days since the tools were put down.

Mr Bennett said on top of that the Keneally and O’Farrell governments had also covered temporary accommodation costs for Housing NSW tenants waiting to move into the 18 incomplete Coffs Harbour units, and 30 apartments in the Illawarra.

“All along we have been told the Government will not pay twice for the job to be finished,” Mr Bennett said. “We accept that, we are only asking for the Government to let us back on the site to finish the work, and pay the difference between Perle’s quote, which was too low to get the job done, and the quote from the next best company that tendered.”

He said the quote from the failed Sydney construction company was between 15% and 20% cheaper than those put forward by other companies, including two local building firms.

Given the Perle debacle happened under a Keneally Government ‘stimulus package’ program, creditors had hoped the change of government in March would bring a resolve.

Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser, who says he has lobbied hard for the local tradies, hopes to secure a meeting with Premier Barry O’Farrell next week to discuss the costly stalemate.

“I believe we as a government are not acting fast enough, this has not been dealt with timely enough,” Mr Fraser said.

“The number one priority is to get the job finished and number two to prove whether there was negligence on the part of the department and or the primary contractor Bovis Lend Lease, which let out the contract to Perle.”

The administrator Rodger's Reidy has forecast returns to creditors of just five cents in the dollar.

Topics:  closure subbies

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