The second collapse of the commercial arm of Watersun, which entered administration on April 28, 2017, was once again devastating to its subcontractors who have lost millions without any hope of recovering any of the money owed.

While we feel for the consumers who have bought homes and apartments from Watersun, they may find some relief through the Last Resort Warranty Insurance scheme, even though in many cases it is left wanting and the consumers miss out.

What is never considered is the subcontractors and tradespeople who work for such companies like Watersun. They are always strung along by the ruse of "keep working, and you will be paid when we get the next progress."

The Watersun collapse has left hundreds of subcontractors, tradies, and suppliers out of pocket by a massive 30 million that will never be recovered.

We need to spare a thought for these innocent victims as many will now follow Watersun and end up in bankruptcy through no fault of their own. Sadly, they will be powerless to prevent the rollercoaster to oblivion.

When this issue is raised to the government management of our industry it is always met with "it’s a federal issue." That’s not the case here, as it sits squarely with the Andrews state government in this instance.

Then we have our trade associations and in this case HIA have weighed in by saying the security of payment laws should allow suppliers to claim money before an insolvency takes place. Tell that to the subcontractors, tradesmen, and suppliers who are owed some 30 million, as the security of payment laws did not help any of them.

HIA went on to say a levy is going to add another tax to the industry, and it just snowballs and makes housing more expensive than it need be.

HIA should be supporting the industry, but instead it defends the Last Resort Builders Warranty Insurance scheme which it developed and introduced in 2002. HIA was the only provider of the scheme for several years before it was opened to other brokers through the intervention of the ACCC.

Over these years, the HIA grew to be a financial giant at the expense of the very industry it purports to represent, and now it has the audacity to discard its very members again who are suffering through the Watersun collapses.

Support for industry members who suffer under these collapses would be miniscule compared to the impost HIA imposed on our industry in 2002 through the Last Resort scheme that still exists 15 years later though the lobbying of HIA and MBAV to ensure the status quo remains because of the income streams they directly receive from it.

Today the Australian Consumers Association refers to the Builders Warranty Scheme as the worst insurance product in Australia and it is demeaned by every consumer advocate in the nation.

The Andrews government has much to answer for as it appears their inability to manage our industry should make them culpable and again it appears trade associations are the ones pulling the policy strings to the detriment of the wider building industry.

The construction industry is the third-largest contributor to GDP in the Australian economy and accordingly should demand a single housing Minister in each state and territory. The current arrangements in Victoria see the management of our industry shared between three ministries who do not share a common goal, so we find our industry poorly treated and policy abused and left wanting.

It is time for the Premier to take stock and respect our industry so that respect can flow to all our sectors and we can start to rebuild an industry that is in shambles with no respect for any aspect.

We must rebuild confidence in our industry.

  • HIA Insurance Services is owned by Aon Risk Services. When the VMIA announce their new distributors don't be sunrprised that other international brokers miss out but HIAIS gets selected. The VMIA website still has not announced that Watersun is now in liquidation. Meanwhile consumers 60 days of paid accommodation under their DBI insurance is about to run out. Will the VMIA announce their BAT Builder Assessment Team or are they continuing to use the services of their failed underwriting agent QBE who couldn't spot an insolvency until the Administrators are appointed. How can the VMIA board remain in the dark about their significant exposure to subprime volume builder risks? Perhaps their exposure assumptions are flawed and not in line with previous APRA assessments?

  • The industry is flawed in so many ways.
    The builder takes on all risk when it comes to builds with no protection whatsoever. In the current climate being a builder is a horrible prospect. Providing a service that desperately needed in all states but with no assistance from any body (HIA and MBAV are useless), only prosocution.
    Other states do offer avenues for protection of the head contractor via Contractor Licencing of Sub Contractors. This atleast gives the builder an option other than litagation against a trade, further to this it also gives the consumer another level of protection before falling to the last line of defense insurance.
    Victorian building needs to catch up with QLD and NSW at the very least.

  • I gather the author here does not look favourably upon the HIA.

    Certainly, any collapse in which consumers and subcontractors lose out is extremely distressing for them.

  • I've got news for you there is no protection for subcontractors anywhere in Australia – SOP is a misnomer- but I agree with Phils sentiments here. As beneficiaries of the insurance scheme it is preferable to allow these companies to liquidate and destroy people's lives . In QLD there is a network of liquidators etc who control liquidation controlled by the regulator. There are no prosecutions of anybody for any reason have you noticed. We are looking at massive fraud that started long before the Andrews Government came to town , QLD had suffered over 30 prepackaged insolvencies since Xmas . Liquidators approach directors to Phoenix out. We have asked for a task force to be established to investigate some of these larger insolvencies – ASIC have let small business down badly. We have been fighting this battle since 2013 and we know what goes on.
    It is good to see that somebody else recognizes this fact. — we need media attention – Les Williams Subcontractors Alliance

  • You're in bad shape if you think the industry is OK in QLD and I beg to differ on the risk – our erstwhile lawyers have endured most risk is passed to subcontractors.

    It is my understanding that these peak industry groups are coveted by the registered organizations laws – time to investigate their debilitating influence and involvement with these insolvencies plaguing innocent people. We got the CFMEU's bum in a sling now time for these parasitic organizations. Les Williams – Subcontracyors Alliance