Queensland Housing and Public Works Minister
Queensland Housing and Public Works Minister

New rules give building regulator more teeth

THE current legal battle between Chinese construction heavyweight China Railway Construction Group and Brisbane developer appears to be the end result of some very laissez-faire building regulations in the past.

City Beat readers will remember Thornton is attempting to extract $40 million from the Chinese company to pay subbies and others hit when CRCG's joint venture CRCG-Rimfire went belly up in 2017. That money and more was guaranteed under a deed CRCG executed with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. CRCG now says it's not bound by the deed.

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick De Brenni tells City Beat that under the old rules the QBCC had no power to reject such a deed, or require evidence the money would indeed be repaid.

De Brenni, who in the past two years has pushed through a series of reforms to protect subbies, says that was part of the "let's just trust the big guys" attitude of the previous regime.

"I said at the time who will be going to China to collect this money," De Brenni says.

He says under new rules set to go into force on April 1, the QBCC will be empowered to check the balance sheets of companies signing such deeds to see whether they can indeed cough up the money.

"They will be able to check whether the cupboard is bare and reject any arrangement under a deed," he says.

BACK OUR SUBBIES

PICK OF THE CROP

PENSION funds invest in everything from airports to office buildings these days, but it's hard to beat LGIASuper's latest bet on fresh fruit and veges.

The Brisbane-based super fund, which manages $12 billion in retirement savings, has committed $112 million to Equilibrium Capital Group's newest fund that focuses on fresh food production across North America.

The fund has announced a new partnership with the Houweling's Group, a leading North American operator of advanced greenhouses that grow tomatoes and cucumbers 365 days a year for major retailers including Walmart and Costco.

LGIASuper chief executive Kate Farrar says American consumers are demanding better quality fresh produce that is grown locally, rather than imported.

 

Illustration of Kate Farrer by Brett Lethbridge.
Illustration of Kate Farrer by Brett Lethbridge.

 

"Australians who have visited the United States often comment that the fresh produce doesn't taste as fresh as it does at home," Farrar says. "Fruit and vegetables in the US have traditionally been imported from as far away as Mexico or shipped long distances across the US, which reduces freshness and impacts taste." Farrar says America is a late starter in advanced greenhouses, with only 4050ha under cultivation compared to 22,260ha in Europe. The greenhouses are often located next to renewable energy plants to allow the creation of a digitally controlled, optimum growing environment.

"We have a great photo of one of these greenhouses in Utah with snow-covered mountains in the background," Farrar says.

COAL FIRED

M RESOURCES managing director Matthew Latimore has beefed up his holdings in Stanmore Coal spending almost $2.9 million on an additional 2.68 million shares in the last two weeks. Latimore and his family company now has a 6.25 per cent holding in the company worth almost $18 million.

Stanmore shares have been on a tear since Singaporean suitors Golden Investments (Australia) offered to buy the company for $250 million last year.

They are already up 12 per cent this year after surging 51 per cent in 2018, helped by the booming coal export trade. The takeover offer was rejected but Golden retains a 25 per cent holding.

Stanmore earlier this week reported a profit after tax of $21.278 million for the half year ended 31 December 2018. Latimore was a director of Curragh Coal Sales and also held several positions at Mitsui & Co in Australia and Japan.

SHIP AHOY

JAPAN'S new consul general to Queensland Kazunari Tanaka is headed down to Hamilton today to meet the Nippon Maru, a Tokyo-backed vessel that supports youth training programs. Recently the vessel has been promoting the 150th anniversary of the Meiji revolution, an event which opened up the then feudal nation to foreign influences. It's been a busy week for Tanaka who also attended a New Year bash for the Queensland Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.



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