Employers and contractors who refuse to pay their subcontractors for completed works

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I rise to speak on the Legislative Assembly Environment and Planning Committee’s report Employers and Contractors Who Refuse to Pay Their Subcontractors for Completed Works. From the outset I would like to thank the committee members, especially the chair the member for Wendouree, for their hard work in investigating this issue that matters to so many in our community, me included.

My parents moved from Ireland to Victoria for a better life and worked hard to start a small family construction business in the Geelong area. Growing up it was my first taste of work and eventually became a career. I worked as a form worker, helping my dad on civil construction jobs, helping to build roads, shopping centres, apartments, bridges and so much more that Victorians rely upon. There are so many Victorians who work in construction who contribute so much to our great state. One just needs to take a step outside this building into the streets of our city to see the boom in construction and the economic growth it contributes to our state. Whether it is our government flagship Big Build or much smaller builds like home construction or renovations, the construction sector generates more than 12 per cent of gross state product and employs one in 10 Victorians. Jobs are created and the economy is cultivated, driving growth and investment, and there can be no doubt that the construction sector is one of the most important to Victoria. That is why it is so important that we ensure the long-term future of this sector by protecting this industry from fraudsters and ensuring a viable path forward for all involved.

The committee has done commendable work in identifying just how widespread the non-payment of subcontractors is in this industry and just how deep the personal impacts of non-payment run. Make no mistake, non-payment is theft, and with around 95 per cent of this sector being comprised of small businesses, non-payment of these businesses is the difference between thousands of Victorian families paying the bills and keeping the lights on or experiencing financial hardship. Like so many Victorians who worked for a small family construction business, I also experienced firsthand the impact of some dodgy and shameful operators who made a living off theft. The experience of my family is, unfortunately, not an uncommon one. Too many hardworking and honest Victorians are ripped off and conned. The Victorians who run these small businesses are the backbone of our state, and they deserve better than being treated with such contempt.

I would like to thank all the individuals and organisations that made submissions to this inquiry. I would like to use this opportunity to highlight a particularly disgusting operator who is a shameful stain on the Victorian building industry. A shout-out to Frank Nadinic, who ought to be condemned for his unscrupulous and immoral behaviour. Mr Nadinic is the type of con man that destroys Victorian small businesses all in the name of making an extra buck for himself. His modus operandi is to pay the first invoice, ensuring that subcontractors start the job, and from then on he withholds payments from the subcontractors as they complete works on the project. This leaves Victorian families reeling, losing thousands of dollars or tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, in this instance, for unpaid works and labour and materials. Mr Nadinic and his family rorted hundreds of small businesses across Victoria, leaving innocent families to suffer the consequences of his conniving robbery. People like Mr Nadinic that inflict such grief and pain on others should be held to account and punished, and this sort of behaviour has no place in Victoria. I send strength and condolences to all those who have been affected by his thefts. I would like to thank the work of the CFMEU in highlighting the disgusting behaviour of Mr Nadinic and informing other subcontractors in the construction industry of his behaviour as a common thief.

I commend the committee’s thorough work in providing recommendations such as amending the definition of ‘business days’ contained in the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2002 by creating new provisions to enable contractors to claim a progress payment and creating new provisions to enable at least one payment claim to be made per calendar month. I look forward to hearing the government’s response to the recommendations contained in this report. I sincerely hope the committee’s work will help put an end to the shameful behaviour of people like Mr Nadinic and all their counterparts, and I look forward to the government’s action to help ensure hardworking Victorians are paid for the work that they do.

John Mullahy MP
Author: John Mullahy MP

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