Sub-contractors around the Illawarra are devastated today with the announcement that St Hilliers Construction Company have gone into voluntary administration.
The company has stopped all construction on housing projects in Wollongong, Shoalhaven and Coffs Harbour.
Director of Craftlatt Illawarra, Keith Wilson, is a sub-contractor for the Henry Street housing development in Tarrawanna. Who finds himself out-of-pocket once again after being in the same situation when Perle Construction collapsed.
“It’s very disappointing to be put in this position again – we’re in the firing line,” Mr Wilson says.
“What’s infuriating me is that St Hilliers is doing exactly the same as Perle – push, push, push to get the job done when they had no intention of paying us.”
Mr Wilson says that the blow means he will be forced to lay workers off this week.
“We’re a small company, I only have three guys working for me but they’ve all got families and bills to pay,” Mr Wilson says.
St Hilliers was contracted by the state government just two months ago to take over from Perle Constructions. They left debts of over $10 million with $1.6 million owed to local sub-contractors.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) organiser, Mick Lane blames the state government for the current situation. He says they should’ve taken care of it the first time around.
“If due diligence had been properly carried out in the first place, we wouldn’t be standing here and the buildings would have been complete,” Mr Lane says.
“I had a concreter in tears this morning,” Mr Lane says.
“He’s just shell-shocked. He’s got more than $100,000 dollars that he’s spent again the second time ‘round.”
Mr Lane says many Illawarra sub-contracting businesses won’t last if they don’t get paid this time.
“Some of them probably won’t survive for one week, others might be in a slightly better position and will be able to keep going for a fortnight or a month”
State Secretary of CFMEU NSW, Brian Park, told ABC News that the state government should allow St Hillers Construction to continue trading so that contractors could be paid.
Mr Wilson says that he now wants a guarantee of payment by the government, but wants to know who is looking out for those like himself that have been affected.
“Where are the people that support us? No-one has given us any support,” Mr Wilson says.
Words: SOPHIE HARRIS
Video: COURTNEY HOWE
Photos: MYLEE HOGAN