The idea in brief
- The Queensland Government special joint taskforce into fraudulent behaviour in the construction industry was formed on 28 February 2019 and called for confidential submissions from the public of instances of fraud and non-payment in the industry.
- The special joint taskforce is headed by a former Supreme Court judge and includes detectives from the Queensland Police, investigators from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission and prosecutors from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
- The taskforce will investigate submissions and refer matters to regulators for investigation or prosecution and report back to Government by 30 June 2019.
- Submissions to the inquiry close at 5pm Friday 17 May 2019.
- Merlehan Group is currently assisting a number of clients, including project owners and contractors, in relation to submissions to the joint taskforce.
- If you require assistance and have witnessed or experienced possible fraudulent conduct or deliberate non-payment in the industry which may warrant a submission to the inquiry, contact our office to arrange urgent assistance to finalise a submission before they close on 17 May 2019.
The idea in detail
On 28 February 2019, the Queensland Government announced a special joint taskforce headed by a former Supreme Court judge and comprised of detectives from the Queensland Police, investigators from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission and prosecutors from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The taskforce was tasked with receiving and investigating submissions from the public about instances of possible fraud in the building and construction industry in Queensland.
The taskforce is the next step in a wave of construction industry law and regulatory reforms advanced by the Queensland Government to seek to deliver on its previous election promise to clamp-down on non-payment in the building and construction industry in Queensland.
So far that reform agenda has seen:
- Substantial reform to building and construction industry Security of Payment Legislation in Queensland, including the removal of the need for payment claims to bear any notation that they are made under the legislation, removal of second chances for respondents to payment claims in the previous legislation and re-drafting of the Subcontractors’ Charges Act legislation.
- Broadening of the regulatory reach and powers of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, including the introduction of new offences and increased fines and terms of possible imprisonment for some offences, such as the repeated carrying out of unlicensed building work or a failure to diligently release retention monies owed under a building contract.
- Introduction of increased mandatory financial reporting for building licence holders and investigative powers of the QBCC in relation to the solvency of building contractors.
- Heightened regulatory activity including the suspension of one of the world’s largest private builder’s building licence in Queensland because of an alleged failure of its Queensland arm to comply with the minimum financial requirements of the licence and the reported issuing of show cause notices to 18 other large building companies because of concerns held about their financial capacity.
- The introduction of mandatory Project Bank Trust Accounts for some government projects and the controversial intention to roll this mandatory requirement out to private sector projects in 2019 (currently this intended roll out is the subject of a review by a panel of Government appointed industry advisors known as the Building Industry Fairness Reforms Implementation and Evaluation Panel).
This next part of the reform agenda, the joint taskforce, is expected to investigate recent financial collapses of some building contractors in Queensland and instances of potential fraudulent behaviour and deliberate non-payment in the industry that is brought to the attention of the taskforce by the public in the form of voluntary confidential submissions.
The taskforce will seek to identify offences or breaches of law for referral to relevant regulators for investigation or prosecution. It is also expected the taskforce may make further reform recommendations to Government when it reports back on or before 30 June 2019, particularly about whether it considers regulatory bodies in Queensland have sufficient investigative and supervisory powers to investigate and prosecute offences and breaches of law in the industry.
Merlehan Group is currently assisting a number of clients, including project owners and contractors, in relation to submissions before the joint taskforce.
If you require assistance and have witnessed or experienced possible fraudulent conduct or deliberate non-payment in the industry which may warrant a submission to the taskforce, contact our office to arrange urgent assistance to finalise a submission before they close on 17 May 2019.