Workers call for developer to pay debts

Steve Nolan's collapse affects about 200 workers and their families.

A builder who donated $200,000 to the Liberal Party last year has gone into administration owing sub-contractors and suppliers an estimated $30 million. The collapse of Steve Nolan Constructions affects five building sites in the northern suburbs of Lindfield, St Leonards, Roseville and Gordon, where apartment blocks are being built for developer, the Ralan Group.

The company's collapse could have a domino effect on the sub-contractors involved, with some of the small businesses owed as much as $2 million. The collapse affects about 200 workers and their families, who are also set to lose wages and entitlements as a result of Nolan's failure to pay, said the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) NSW Construction branch.

About50 workers rallied outside the Chatswood offices of Ralan Group on February 12, calling on the developer to pay money owed to contractors and workers. CFMEU NSW construction branch assistant state secretary Rob Kera says Steve Nolan Constructions had failed to pay sub-contractors on the sites for the past few months.

"Now we have been told Ralan Group is telling subbies to forget about the money they are owed and to just finish the job and they'll pay them from here on," Kera said. "It is outrageous to suggest that family-owned businesses suck up a $2 million loss while Ralan Group seeks to make millions of profit from the rampant housing market in Sydney.

"It is not good enough, and the CFMEU is calling on the Ralan Group to pay the debts that are owed."

Kera says it again highlights the urgent need for the Barry O'Farrell state government to move on the recommendations of the Collins Inquiry that called for mandatory trust funds for all development projects over $1 million.

"Almost a year to the day that Bruce Collins QC made his recommendations on how to protect workers and sub-contractors caught in company collapses, the O'Farrell government has yet to act on major recommendations. Here we have another case where small construction businesses will go to the wall because this government continues to fiddle while Rome burns."

Labor shadow minister Adam Searle told the February 12 protest that legislation to establish a building trust fund was passed through the NSW parliament nearly six months ago, but "the state government has not proclaimed the act."

The campaign to demand that Ralan Group pay the money owed to sub-contractors will continue, organisers told the workers.