Subbies and security of payment

The Queensland Government has released a discussion paper seeking feedback on the best approach to security of payment for subcontractors.

Security of payment is about making sure everyone in the contractual chain gets paid for work done or goods supplied by a subcontractor. The five options that have been proposed in the discussion paper include:

  1. Project bank accounts: facilitating simultaneous payments of a project's head contractor and all participating subcontractors through a trust arrangement
  2. Retention trust fund scheme: requiring subcontractors’ retention money to be held in a separate trust account
  3. Insurance schemes: includes a range of insurance schemes to safeguard against defects, late completion and insolvency of contractors
  4. Federal legislative changes: involves lobbying the Commonwealth government for reform to Commonwealth legislation relating to security of payment
  5. Education: This option proposes education for the building and construction industry stakeholders regarding matters such as financial management and business management

Comments were also requested on amendments made in 2014 to the Building & Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 as well as the Subcontractors Charges Act 1974 and the Queensland Building and Construction Commission’s Minimum Financial Requirements Policy. Input can be provided to the Government through an online survey or via written submissions. Consultation sessions are also being run throughout the state in February and March.

Updated District and City plans

A new Coastal Management District came into effect on 3 February 2016, which most notably projected a sea level rise of 0.8 metres by 2100. The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has also declared new erosion-prone areas in Far North Queensland, correcting a previous administrative error. Current mapping is available here.

Other planning schemes to come in to effect during early February were the Gold Coast City Plan and the Moreton Bay Regional Council Planning Scheme, which replaced the previous Redcliffe, Caboolture and Pine Rivers Planning Schemes.

State planning

Public comment closed on 5 February 2016 on Queensland’s new state planning legislation (plus guidelines and rules), titled Queensland’s Key Directions Paper. These new bills will replace the Sustainable Planning Act 2009. Focus areas include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customs and traditions, heritage conservation, housing affordability, community resilience and encouraging investment and economic resilience. Once the bills are passed, a 12-month transition period will follow to train and educate practitioners, community and industry.

E-conveyancing for QLD

A new property exchange network introduced early this year will fast track settlement times for Queensland buyers and sellers. This move brings Queensland into line with three other states by moving property transfers to the digital space. Named PEXA, this alternative to paper-based property settlements completes the exchange process via a secure online platform, removing the need to meet in person.

All the big four major banks and a large majority of legal and conveyancing firms have joined the network or are in the process of doing so.

Once signed up to PEXA, the initial subscriber can start the transaction by inviting other subscribers into the workspace to complete online. It is the Registrar of Titles’ role to determine whether an operator is suitable to participate in the network.

Further information can be found here.

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