Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga and Member for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke.
Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga and Member for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke. Chris Ison ROK190618cprison6

Lauga and O'Rourke say Labor not to blame for dodgy builders

KEPPEL MP Brittany Lauga and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke have hit back at criticisms directed to the State Government and themselves over the JM Kelly collapse.

In otherwise identical statements, Mrs Lauga said her husband worked for the company 13 years ago and was one of thousands of locals employed by the JM Kelly over its 57 year history.

Mr O'Rourke said he was the Regional Director for Housing and Homelessness Services within the Department of Housing and Public Works and was at no stage responsible for, or involved in, the procurement or tendering of maintenance or construction projects on Government building assets.

The response did not address the 21 government contracts transferred to JM Kelly Builders after the collapse of JM Kelly Project Builders in 2016.

It said the former Newman LNP Government had untied health and education infrastructure build from public works leaving those departments unsupported by an expert whole-of-government building advisor.

"The LNP made changes to the laws that made it easier for dodgy operators to do the wrong thing," the statement read.

"They watered down the minimum financial requirements (MFR) and introduced self-reporting, negligently putting subcontracting businesses at risk.

"Then Tim Mander changed the laws so licenced contractors didn't have to provide financial information showing they complied with the financial requirements when they renewed their licence.

"He allowed them to self-certify...and removed the requirement for larger licensed contractors to submit audited financial statements every year at renewal."

The statement said Housing and Public Works Minister, Mick de Brenni had been rebuilding the public works agency to ensure good practice.

"It's easier to break things up and a lot harder to put them back together," it read.

"With respect to JM Kelly, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission had confirmed it would take action under new legislation to exclude John Murphy from the industry for his role as JM Kelly Builders' director.

"Previous attempts by the QBCC to exclude Mr Murphy as a person of influence were thwarted by a successful QCAT appeal.

"We will fight to bring an end to these types of bankruptcies, and for that reason the Palaszczuk government had created new laws to strengthen legislation around security of payment and excluded persons.

"Labor is starting the process to restore MFR...we will place the MFR requirements in a regulation, putting them squarely in the responsibility of government where they belong."

However the LNP Shadow Minister for Housing and Public Works, Michael Hart said the Palaszczuk Labor government had been in power for four years.

"It's a bit rich to blame the former LNP government," he said.

"The buck stops with the Labor government, pure and simple.

"The community deserves answers about JM Kelly, but all we are getting from Labor are excuses about their inaction on a well-known Labor donor."

The Morning Bulletin asked the State Government whether an enquiry was planned into the collapse of JM Kelly but we did not get a response.