The Australian Subcontractors Association (ASA) and Subcontractors WA (SWA) have joined forces and will now represent over 50,000 subcontractors in Australia.
The merger was spearheaded by ASA board member and previous Chairwoman of Subcontractors WA Louise Stewart and ASA Chairman Paul Williams.
“This is a fragmented industry and the merger will help prepare it for the future,” Ms. Stewart said.
“With a federal election looming, we need to be prepared for any eventuality. This merger will give our members a much stronger voice in Canberra as well in the states and territories.”
The ASA in a statement asserted that there are a number of challenges facing the construction industry over the next year and the organisation needs to be prepared to face them head on.
Ms. Stewart said the biggest issues for the construction industry include delayed and non-payment due to high levels of insolvency, unfair contractual conditions and changes to the industrial relations laws.
“Small businesses in the sector are already on their knees as a result of over $3 billion lost in non-payment due to insolvencies every year. We need payment protections, not more instability. Given our members make up over 82 per cent of the industry, it is time for them to assert their dominant position in the industry.”
According to the joint statement, Subcontractors WA has experienced rapid growth over the past 12 months due to the high number of construction insolvencies in WA, in addition to the advocacy work done by Ms. Stewart on reform for better payment protections for subcontractors in WA and across Australia.
“We recognise and support the significant achievements made by Louise Stewart in advocating for fairer payment process and the introduction of cascading deemed statutory trusts across the industry,” Mr. Williams said.
“Louise has a very deep understanding of the industry and the complexities of the construction laws across the country. She has been an active participant on the Commonwealth Government’s Security of Payment Review and in assisting state governments on reform.”
Ms. Stewart said it’s also crucial that there are consistent laws across the country based on current laws in place in the eastern States.
“A subcontractor in WA should not be waiting 42 days to get paid when the law stipulates payment in 20 days in NSW,” she said.
“Subcontractors in the construction industry are often family run, small businesses; we do not need to see an increase in levels of unlawful activity. The impact could be enormous. We are advocating for more transparency, collaboration, better regulation and enforcement in the construction industry – elements that are sadly lacking. Any attempt to remove what basic regulation exists without an attempt to replace it in another way, would be detrimental.”