Building site Builders turn against construction watchdog

QUEENSLAND builders are planning to launch a class action against the state’s construction industry watchdog over what they claim is heavy-handed oversight that has destroyed businesses.

Small to medium-sized building firms are aiming to meet next week in Brisbane as the first step in lobbing the legal grenade at the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.

The aggrieved parties will be chasing an unspecified damages bill, certain to run in to the millions of dollars.

They also want to see sweeping industry reforms and the reinstatement of licences revoked “unfairly’’.

The looming Federal Court action, believed to the first in the nation against such a state regulator, has been spearheaded by self-styled “professional advocate’’ Susie Bennell.
Bennell, the Sydney-based former manager of champion boxer Kostya Tszyu, told Business Confidential yesterday she had already convened one meeting that drew about 20 interested parties.

“If the QBCC continues along its lines of just wiping out builders, liquidating their companies for a whole gamut of reasons and not addressing reforms, there will no longer be long-term builders,’’ she said.

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Despite the barely contained rage over aggressive policing of the sector, Housing Minister Mick De Brenni intends to double down on his support of the commission.

He wants to give regulators even greater powers to take on dodgy builders in a bid to protect subcontractors and homeowners.

De Brenni’s controversial plan to mandate the use of trust accounts to stop builders shafting their subbies has already drawn the fierce criticism of peak industry groups.

Indeed, Master Builders Queensland, making no secret of their displeasure with De Brenni, have even rented billboard space on the M1 to drive home the point.

City Beat with Anthony Marx – COURIER MAIL