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Businesses unlikely to be burnt again: MP

Friday, 15th November, 2013

By Andrew Robertson

Local MP John Williams is as confident as he can be that a new teacher housing project in Menindee will not end up as another Eco Village.

The State government yesterday announced Brisbane company Auzam Constructions had won the $430,000 contract to build a four bedroom house next to Menindee Public School.

It said local subcontractors and suppliers would be working on the project which will cater to a growing number of teachers with families settling in the town.   

Earlier this year another Brisbane-based company went into administration while it was building a six unit teacher housing estate dubbed the Eco Village in Sulphide Street.

Broken Hill subcontractors and suppliers are still owed thousands of dollars from the collapse of Cavalier Brisbane, which was subcontracted by Albury based Zauner Construction for the job.

But Member for Murray Darling John Williams said yesterday that since then new legislation had been brought in to better protect subcontractors when the primary builder went belly up.

In fact, Mr Williams was among the MPs who made the current Finance Minister, Andrew Constance, and his predecessor aware of the increasing problem of insolvency in the building industry.

He said he had been approached by a number of sub-contractors who had been left out of pocket from jobs where the builder had gone bankrupt. 

The new legislation, he said, placed tougher requirements on builders to ensure they paid their subcontractors.

 

However there would never be a “solid gold guarantee” a builder would not go broke. 

“But we’re putting a lot more things in place to ensure that not the case.”

Mr Williams said the four bedroom house would provide a much needed boost to Menindee’s existing teacher housing stock.

There are currently five teachers employed at the school who have families, but only two houses owned by the Teacher Housing Authority, including the principal’s residence.

“Research shows that housing availability is a critical factor in getting teachers to fill positions in rural and remote communities, especially those on shortterm postings,” Mr Williams said.

He said while teachers were able to receive a subsidy if they rented a private house, it was “probably better they are being provided with (housing) that is modern”.

The cost of renting was another reason why teachers would be welcoming the government’s building program. 

“That’s been a complaint we’ve had particularly with first time teachers. One of the problems, if they are not sharing with someone else, is the cost of rent is quite prohibitive.

“There’s been some significant money spent on teacher housing (in recognition of that).”

Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance said around $10 million would be spent building and upgrading houses to accommodate teachers in the bush this financial year.

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