Fighting for Subbies Rights
A GOLD Coast business claims it is more than $1 million out of pocket for work on the $1.5 billion Defence Department expansion of Amberley Air Base.
Dan and Leisa Tobin’s electrical engineering business Civex took on two big contracts totalling almost $3 million for work on the air base near Ipswich in 2016.
The Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have each launched investigations into the case, which the Tobins say has already cost them $250,000 in legal fees.
The Mount Tamborine couple say their pleas to the Department of Defence, Australian Federal Police, Queensland Building and Construction, Attorney-General and Queensland Police Service have been dismissed or ignored.
The Tobins say the two-year stoush, which has found its way into the Queensland District Court, has left them mired in debt, living in a shed and forced to downscale their business from 30 staff to five.
In an impassioned letter to Attorney-General Christian Porter, Ms Tobin said she and her husband had each been close to suicide and their financial situation meant they could no longer pursue IVF treatments, and had given up on starting a family.
She also says she is buying food on credit.
Mr Porter’s office yesterday said the letter had “been responded to” and the mater was not the responsibility of the Attorney-General’s office.
Mr Tobin said it was only the strength of his wife, who had given up her career to pursue the matter full-time with lawyers and regulators, that had helped him survive.
“It’s impacted every area — our home life and business life,” Mr Tobin said.
“We went in fairly tight on that job and every scrap of material we’ve put in the ground they’ve claimed it.
“We can’t just write it off or we’ll go bankrupt — it’s my whole life’s earnings.”
The couple said their civil electrical company Civex had been subcontracted to the project by Fredon Qld Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of national building juggernaut Fredon Group, itself a subcontractor to Lend Lease and Laing O’Rourke for two RAAF base jobs.
For several months, they said all had gone well, with Fredon paying the subbie’s claims when submitted and the work progressing as planned.