St Hilliers creditors’ meeting set for May 25 as hundreds of contractors still await payment on projects
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The first creditors meeting for the collapsed construction arm of St Hilliers has been set for May 25 as accusations continue to fly over decisions to award government contracts to the Sydney-based property and construction group just months before it collapsed.
A spokesperson for administrators Trent Hancock and Michael Hird of Moore Stephens Sydney Corporate Recovery Group says the meeting will be held in Sydney but could not provide details about the number of creditors or how much they are owed.
Creditors will include hundreds of building contractors, many of which are small business operators who have worked on St Hilliers projects around the country and have not been paid for their work.
Yesterday the administrators met with major clients, but smaller contractors are yet to receive any reassurances.
At the same time the NSW’s Barry O’Farrell government continues to come under heavy fire for awarding tenders to St Hilliers to take over 13 public housing projects in Wollongong, the Hunter, Shoalhaven and Coffs Harbour worth $25 million just two months ago.
St Hilliers won the tender to complete the projects following the collapse of previous contractor, Sydney-based building company Perle, in February last year.
Embattled NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce says the federal government should investigate the collapse of the construction business and has accused St Hilliers of using the voluntary administration as “cynical attempt” to avoid its debts.
However, Pearce has in turn been accused of passing the buck after approving St Hilliers as the winning bidder for the public housing projects.
Pearce has defended the appointment of St Hilliers and says the NSW government performed two financial assessments of the company before it was contracted to complete the NSW projects.
He claims that “no one at all raised with me any issue about St Hilliers’ financial position”.
Among those caught out by the collapse is Lake Macquarie landscaper Matt Corfield, who worked on a public housing project in Teralba in the Hunter and is owed more than $6,000 by St Hilliers and a further $10,000 from Perle.
Corfield told the Newcastle Herald he had received “an iron-clad guarantee” from St Hilliers he would be paid because “there was no way the government could afford the embarrassment of a second collapse”.
"Now this has happened. They owe me $6,732. It was supposed to be a stimulus job, but it’s reverse stimulus because it could put us out of business.”
Corfield has three full-time employees, a full-time apprentice and a casual worker, who he says could all end up on the dole as a result of the collapse.
The Coffs Coast Advocate reports that Coffs Harbour tradesmen working on a public housing project are owed $660,000 and like Corfield have been caught up in the second collapse of a government-appointed building contractor on the same project.
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