WITH only 37 days until the state election, the collapse of construction company Perle is looming as a major battleground in the contest for Coffs Harbour.
Creditors owed more than $1.6 million are seeking legal action in the hope of filing a class action to recover their money. But Housing Minister Frank Terenzini said workers should be asking Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser what he would do if elected to government.
“It’s all very well that Mr Fraser crusades on their behalf – that’s his job – but if he really has their best interests at heart, he should already be telling them that a Coalition government would pay them all out – every cent – no delays.
“But he hasn’t offered this to them, has he?
“And I suggest he’s not likely to either because I doubt they won’t be able to pay subbies out either. That’s why he’s changed tactics from demanding a payout to suggesting that subbies take a class action.”
Mr Fraser hit back.
“Let’s have a look at taking a class action against the Department of Housing, the managing contractor, Perle and anyone else in range,” he said.
“I would suggest Mr Terenzini’s attacking (media) releases are no more than that old adage ‘attack is the best form of defence’.
“His department has presided over the issuing of contracts to contractors who are dropping like flies.
“This is yet another example of an incompetent State Government and possibly an incompetent tendering process.”
Mr Fraser said he was now led to believe more companies would “go under” just as Perle had. Meanwhile, the Labor candidate for Coffs Harbour, David Quinn, said if Mr Fraser was going to “stir up” contractors into a class action, “I want to know who is going to pay for it”.
“Is the National Party going to pay for it?” Mr Quinn said.
“I would like to publicly continue my support and sympathies for the affected subbies throughout the whole process,” he said.