Work on the Great Western Highway at Hazelbrook could re-start within weeks as the NSW Government begins working through money owed to sub-contractors of financially troubled Reed Constructions.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay announced last Thursday the government and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) had “agreed on a way forward” to enable projects Reed had been working on to recommence.
Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) would “work through with each subcontractor the work done, their claims for payment and payments made by Reed”, which would then be cross-checked against RMS’ payments to Reed, Mr Gay said in a statement.
“Subject to weather, it is expected that work on the Central Coast Highway will recommence on Friday, June 8 and over the following weeks at the Shortland to Sandgate, Great Western Highway and Alfords Point projects,” it said.
While Mr Gay confirmed his commitment to Reed’s existing subcontractors being given first opportunity to provide their services in the completion of the projects, the statement said RMS would also offer existing subcontractors on the Central Coast Highway the opportunity to be considered for work on the Great Western Highway.
But Opposition Leader John Robertson called Premier Barry O’Farrell to guarantee all outstanding pay owed to local subcontractors working on the highway first.
“The government wants these subcontractors to commence new work while discussions continue and they remain unpaid for work done months ago,” he said in a statement.
“That’s just not right, and these workers are entitled to insist on security of payments before they do any more work for this government.”
Reed had been contracted to complete 3.2 kilometres of highway widening work in the Mid Mountains, however work stopped at the site following the company’s February announcement it owed sub-contractors across the state millions.
Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage welcomed the news that construction would recommence on the section of highway between Hazelbrook and Woodford, saying Mountains residents and regular highway users had had a “gutful” with waiting.
“I also welcome the news that sub-contractors are being given first opportunity to provide their services to complete the project,” she said in a statement.
“I am as keen as everyone in the Blue Mountains to have this work finally completed.
“The highway was started many years ago and the residents in Blue Mountains deserve it to be completed as soon as possible.”
But Blue Mountains Labor spokesperson Trish Doyle said Mrs Sage should be “hounding” Mr O’Farrell to sort workers’ payments.
“I think the community at Hazelbrook is horrified with having its main thoroughfare turned into a construction pit,” she said in a statement.
“I’m very concerned about the proximity of this uncompleted work to Hazelbrook Public School. As a teacher myself, this is not a positive environment for the education of children.
“We all wait for the Premier to give these workers the financial peace of mind necessary for construction to recommence.”