Peak construction subcontractor groups join forces
The Australian Subcontractors Association (ASA) and Subcontractors WA (SWA) have formed a partnership with the aim to create a stronger voice for the industry.
ASA board member and previous Chairwoman of Subcontractors WA Louise Stewart and ASA Chairman Paul Williams were the initiators of the merger with the combined group representing over 50,000 subcontractors in Australia.
Louise Stewart says the industry is fragmented and the partnership will aid in fixing this.
“With a federal election looming, we need to be prepared for any eventuality. This merger will give our members a much stronger voice in Canberra as well as the other states and territories. It is vital that this industry has a strong national body and it made common sense to have one consistent voice,” she says.
“The biggest issues for the construction industry are delayed and non-payment due to high levels of insolvency, Bill Shorten’s allegiance with the CFMEU, the potential axing of the ABCC, unfair contractual conditions, and changes to the industrial relations laws. Small businesses in the sector are already on their knees as a result of over $3 billion lost in non-payment due to insolvencies every year. We need payment protections, not more instability. Given our members make up over 82% of the industry, it is time for them to assert their dominant position in the industry.”
Subcontractors WA has experienced rapid growth over the past 12 months due to the high number of construction insolvencies in WA, in addition to the advocacy work done by Louise on reform for better payment protections for subcontractors in WA and across Australia.
Paul Williams says ASA acknowledges Louise’s achievements in the industry and thanks her for her work in advocating for fairer payment process and the introduction of cascading deemed statutory trusts across the industry.
“Louise has a very deep understanding of the industry and the complexities of the construction laws across the country. She has been an active participant on the Commonwealth Government’s Security of Payment Review and in assisting state governments on reform.”
In late 2018, Louise advised that she would be stepping away from her board positions on SWA and ASA to focus on other opportunities. With Julie Bishop’s recent resignation, Louise who lives in Peppermint Grove in the Curtin electorate, intends to run for the seat as an independent.
Louise says that she looks forward to seeing the industry grow and develop and will continue to be a strong advocate for it.
“We expect other trade associations such as NECA, AMCA, AFIA, AWCI, Master Plumbers and other Speciality Trade Contractors will also join with ASA to ensure that the recommendations in three separate government-commissioned reports last year are finally implemented across the nation,” she says.
“We have had over 50 years of recommendations for the introduction of deemed cascading statutory trusts – but given subcontractors remain unpaid for over $3 billion of work each year and in light of current market conditions, the implementation of these payment protection measures is urgent. It’s also crucial that we have consistent laws across the country based on current laws in place in the Eastern States. A subcontractor in WA should not be waiting 42 days to get paid when the law stipulates payment in 20 days in NSW.”
“Subcontractors in the construction industry are often family run, small businesses; we do not need to see an increase in levels of unlawful activity. The impact could be enormous. We are advocating for more transparency, collaboration, better regulation and enforcement in the construction industry – elements that are sadly lacking. Any attempt to remove what basic regulation exists without an attempt to replace it in another way, would be detrimental.”