Construction workers contracted for security upgrade at Parliament House left unpaid
The contract termination has delayed the $126 million project by at least eight months. (ABC News: Marco Catalano )
Subcontractors working on a multi-million-dollar security upgrade at Parliament House have been left hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket after the company that hired them went broke.
- Steelvision won the contract to work on Parliament but stopped paying its suite of subcontractors around August last year
- The massive upgrade of Parliament House security has turned the building into a construction site for more than a year
- Steelvision is due to appear in the Victorian Supreme Court on Wednesday
Victorian-based company Steelvision won the contract to make and install hardened entrance doors, but stopped paying its suite of subcontractors around August last year.
Its contract has now been terminated but the troubles have delayed the $126 million project by at least eight months and no new completion date has been set.
One subcontractor, GK Solutions, is owed just under $500,000 after installing the building’s new blast-proof windows. Its director, Gavin Queit, doubts he will ever see that money.
“It’s a massive hit,” he told the ABC.
“How is it possible that something like this could happen on a Commonwealth project, at Parliament, and subcontractors are being left unpaid?”
Mr Queit said there was usually a “sense of comfort” that came with taking a government job, but in this case, his business had been “left in the lurch”.
More than a dozen subcontractors are in a similar position, many of them in the La Trobe Valley where Steelvision set up shop.
It has been revealed that last year, the company received a grant worth more than $500,000 from the Victorian Government, which, weeks later, took Steelvision to court to recoup $135,000 in unpaid payroll tax.
Bernie Willaton is the director of Willaton Transport, which was hired by Steelvision to truck the materials from Morwell to Parliament House in Canberra.
His company is now owed $120,000 for that job and others, and Mr Willaton said the Victorian Government needed to take some responsibility for backing the failed business.
“There was an endorsement by the Government to say that these guys are fine,” he said.
“I think they made a bad decision — they were willing to give the money to anyone. It should never have happened.”
The massive upgrade of Parliament House security has turned the building into a construction site for more than a year as fences and bollards have gone up and the entrances fortified.
Ordered in the wake of the attacks on parliaments in Canada and the UK, the works were due to be completed in July 2018, but effectively ground to a halt with Steelvision’s collapse.
The Department of Parliamentary Services said it was “not liable for outstanding payments to Steelvision’s sub-contractors” but indicated the company had falsified statutory declarations designed to protect the businesses it hired.
“Steelvision had been furnishing such declarations on a monthly basis, but in recent months the department became aware of complaints that sub-sub-contractors have not received payments by Steelvision,” the department said in a statement.
Steelvision is due to appear in the Victorian Supreme Court on Wednesday as part of an application to have the company wound up and creditors appointed.