Mick de Brenni, the Minister for Housing and Public Works. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Mick de Brenni, the Minister for Housing and Public Works. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Building giant barred from Government projects

HOUSING and Public Works Minister Mick De Brenni has moved to block British construction giant Laing O'Rourke from undertaking any further work for the State Government after the building watchdog pulled its licence last week.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission on Friday suspended the licence of Laing O'Rourke's Australia arm amid concerns about its financial viability.

Queensland Building and Construction Commissioner Brett Bassett said the company's licence was suspended after a show-cause notice was issued by the QBCC in January.

Mr De Brenni said that immediately after receiving advice of the commission's decision, the government's register of prequalified contractors - the go-to list for government agencies to choose a builder - was updated to ensure contracting with Laing O'Rourke did not to occur until the issue was resolved.

Mr de Brenni said individual government departments were still gathering information on whether the suspension affected their projects. "I've asked for this to be provided to me as a priority," said Mr de Brenni, "The QBCC decision also means the private sector can't contract with Laing O'Rourke while the suspension is in effect."

Laing O'Rourke says it will appeal the decision, claiming its financial position remains strong.

The company holds the highest possible licence, allowing it to work on projects worth over $240 million. But the company's Australian and British arms have both been bleeding red ink.

Its Australian projects have included the $130 million Griffith University health centre, Brisbane Airport expansion, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and $955 million redevelopment of Sydney's Central Station.

Last year, it was awarded an $800 million contract by the Defence Department to upgrade the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in central Queensland.

In 2014, it was also given the job of building hangars at Amberley Air Force Base, with the company's website listing a completion date of 2019.

The licence suspension is the latest bad news for the sector, with more than 1400 companies in the state's construction industry entering administration in the past five years.