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Australian Greens Vow to Bring ASIO in From the Cold in Building Dispute

Media Release
Peter Whish-Wilson 30 Apr 2013

 The Australian Greens have committed to continue scrutinising the government’s handling of contracts surrounding the construction of ASIO’s new headquarters, following news another unpaid contractor has entered voluntary administration.

 The Party’s small business spokesperson Senator Peter Whish-Wilson stated he will actively pursue the issue through Senate Estimates in a few weeks and if answers aren’t forthcoming will move for a Senate Inquiry.

 “It’s not acceptable that good, viable small businesses are going to the wall in circumstances such as this. Government departments and big business should both be accountable and transparent as to how this situation was allowed to occur.

 “The demise of Tread Lightly Earthmoving  Pty Ltd will see around 60 people lose their jobs, simply for the reason a government structured contractor payment system hasn’t honoured a contract.

 “Greens ACT Senate Candidate Simon Sheikh has also met with some of the firms affected and has also vowed to lobby the federal Government to step in and ensure a fair outcome.

 “This dispute has dragged on long enough, and we urge the new Federal Small Business Commissioner to help the 100 or so other small business impacted by this dispute, many of which cannot afford to initiate their own legal proceedings to recover unpaid monies.

 “The ASIO dispute is the first real test for the new Commissioner’s effectiveness, and it remains to be seen if he can drag ASIO, Lend Lease and other parties to the negotiating table.

 “The Greens recently pushed for the Federal Small Business Commissioner to be legislated and granted necessary powers to investigate and facilitate the resolution of complaints from small businesses about their commercial arrangements with Government Departments and agencies and to obtain information and evidence from relevant parties backed by coercive power if necessary to perform the role.

 “Unfortunately an ‘old party’ dominated Senate Committee recommended against such a move.”


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