PROJECT BANK ACCOUNT CHANGES PASS PARLIAMENT

Legislation to amend Queensland Government’s Project Bank Account reforms have passed the parliament.

The Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 passed the Parliament on Wednesday, implementing the Government’s response to the Building Industry Fairness Reforms Implementation and Evaluation Panel report, and the Special Joint Taskforce.

The changes to the reforms include:

  • Greater prosecuting powers to the QBCC to investigate false statutory declarations,
  • Introducing charges on land and payment withholding requests on financiers,
  • Removal of the disputed funds account
  • Removal of principal supervision requirements in favour of QBCC oversight
  • Increased punitive measures for non-compliance
  • Simplified definitions for ‘building work’, ‘subcontractors’ and ‘suppliers’

The Property Council has opposed the introduction of PBAs since their announcement in 2017. In various submissions, the Property Council has outlined concerns with the PBA model due to the regulatory burden it would place on businesses. In the submission ‘5 ways to improve the PBA model’, the Property Council provided suggestions to improve the model.

Although remaining against the introduction of PBA’s the Property Council has welcomed the latest amendments to the model which has incorporated industry feedback and will be less onerous than the original PBA framework. Furthermore, the extended timeframes for the rollout of project trusts provides industry with more time to plan for the transition.

A new delayed timeframe for the staged implementation of the reforms will be released shortly. The Property Council is advised that the timeframe will be:

  • 1 March 2021 – trust accounts apply to new government projects $1m to $10m (previously 1 July 2020)
  • 1 July 2021—government and Hospital and Health Services (HHS) building and construction contracts valued at $1 million or more.
  • 1 January 2022— private sector, local government, statutory authorities’ and government-owned corporations’ building and construction contracts valued at $10 million or more.
  • 1 July 2022— private sector, local government, statutory authorities’ and government-owned corporations’ building and construction contracts valued at $3 million or more.
  • 1 January 2023— all eligible building and construction contracts valued at $1 million or more (full implementation).
The Bill also established a statutory review into the role of property developers, including their workplace practices, in the construction industry. The Property Council will engage with the Government on the terms of reference of this review and the make up of the review panel.