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Controversial Queanbeyan Bypass road: contractors left high and dry


“CANBERRA AND QUEANBEYAN tradespeople say the $86 million Ellerton Drive extension has been mismanaged, after a sub-contractor spiralled into voluntary administration and left 21 local businesses nearly $395,000 out-of-pocket”, reports The Canberra Times. The debt includes almost half a million dollars owed to the Australian Taxation office.

“Civil Bridge and Wharf, indebted to 63 companies nationally by nearly $3 million, appointed administrators on Friday, July 12. The company blames the project’s head contractor, WBHO Infrastructure, for its downfall; with NSW Roads and Maritime Services having awarded it the job in 2017.”

A spokesperson for the Australian Building and Construction Commission said the ABCC is currently investigating the matter to determine if there has been a breach by any of the parties in relation to security of payment laws.

The avenues open to the ABCC if a breach is found range from working with the relevant company to achieve compliance, through to recommending to the responsible Minister that the company be sanctioned.

While the relevant tender was on a NSW state basis, the Commonwealth can add to the pressure by making a payment-defaulting company ineligible from tendering for Commonwealth Government funded work for up to a period of 12 months.

He said in the 2018–19 financial year the ABCC was successful in recouping $6.03 million to subcontractors through direct intervention and contractor self-rectification.

Bridge work up in the air, contractors in the dumps

Katrina Willis for the Queanbeyan Conservation Alliance commented: “so much for the promise from its proponents that the EDE project would provide an economic boost for the city during the construction phase. How will tradespeople and local businesses be paid for their work?

“What’s to happen with the project, given the reported dispute over an aspect of the bridge design? A few weeks ago, the bridgework was not completed. (See photo.)  What about long-suffering residents living alongside this construction zone? Will the project be further delayed?

“The people of Queanbeyan, and the residents nearby in particular, need answers including what financial implications arise.

“The NSW Government and the Mayor need to provide an assurance that there will be no additional financial liability for residents and ratepayers who are already stumping up a $36M, 20-year loan for the developer. That’s on top of $50M in grants from the NSW and Australian governments.”

And from a letter by a Queanbeyan resident 

“Adding to embarrassment is the fact, now obvious to all, that rather than providing a bypass ring-road this assault on the environment was solely to facilitate development of Jumping Creek Estate.

“That the area houses endangered species; is a koala transit corridor and subject to significant bushfire risk, obviously counts for nothing. City fathers may adopt their usual mantra of alternative habitat off-sets — in Gippsland!

“Newly-minted Minister for Regional Development, Deputy Premier, Barilaro, will be unable to escape opprobrium flowing from this decision as he was very vocal in his support of this “project”, in his own bailiwick, and proudly boasted of securing $25m of the requisite financing.”

(> Read the full letter under Editorial/Opinion)


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