By Paul Hemsley
Contractors working on building projects who fib in statutory declarations face prosecution and up to three years jail under a Queensland government crackdown on bogus statutory declarations.
The swoop comes as state authorities get tough on suppliers to the government who submit false statements claiming that they have discharged all their obligations to pay receivables owed to sub-contractors and workers.
The statutory declarations are a common requirement of building and works contracts for the Queensland Government which suppliers must complete before they are able to lodge a claim for payment with the government.
It is understood that an increase in the incidence of subcontractors and workers being ripped-off triggered the enforcement action.
Queensland Housing and Public Works Minister, Dr Bruce Flegg warned contractors working on government building projects that legal consequences will follow non-compliance with the government’s documentation rules.
He said the Queensland Police would be called in if contactors are caught submitting false statutory declarations.
Offending contractors could also lose their building licenses through separate civil action that can be initiated by the Queensland Building Services Authority, which regulates the industry.
“These statutory declarations are not just another piece of paper to sign when submitting a payment claim – they are important legal documents governed by the Oaths Act 1867,” Dr Flegg said.
Governments rely on contractors telling the truth on the declaration provided in order to make the correct payments to contractors, he said.
Dr Flegg said Department of Housing and Public Works has referred a total of 14 alleged false Statutory Declarations to the Queensland Police Service for investigation over the last two years.
"The referrals were for three different contractors over 14 different projects," Dr Flegg said.
According to Dr Flegg, three of these projects were in 2010-11, and 11 were in 2011–12.
“If we suspect that a false statutory declaration has been provided, we will take the matter very seriously indeed,” Dr Flegg said.
especially building companies who have increasingly been failing to pay subcontractors everything that they are owed.
Most state government building contracts in Queensland require a statement that receivables owing to contractors and employees have been paid out when submitting their own claim for payment.
Queensland Housing and Public Works Minister, Dr Bruce Flegg warned contractors working on government building projects that the the law would catch-up with them if they did not comply with documentation rules.
False declarations would be referred to the Queensland Police if contrators are found to have submitted false statutory declarations for government building projects.
Police are not the only regulatory weapon the government is deploying to force builders to stop fibbing.
Contractors also face being reported to the the Queensland Building Services Authority, which can cancel building licences, if found to have submitted false documentation.
Dr Flegg said his Department had recently referred to police a number of potentially false statutory declarations received on government building projects.
These statutory declarations are not just another piece of paper to sign when submitting a payment claim Dr Flegg said.
He warned contractors found guilty of a criminal offence under section 194 of the Criminal Code 1899 could go to gaol for up to three years.
Governments relied on contractors telling the truth on the declaration provided in order to make the correct payments to contractors, he said.
If we suspect that a false statutory declaration has been provided, we will take the matter very seriously indeed,Â Dr Flegg said.
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