NSW Nationals Leader John Barilaro has announced financial assistance for small businesses left out of pocket by the collapse of a Government contractor.

The Acting Premier, who also serves as Minister for Regional NSW and Minister for Small Business, met with small businesses in Coffs Harbour on Tuesday to deliver the news.

“It’s been a long and extremely emotional time for this group, so I am very pleased to be delivering this news to them today,” Mr Barilaro said. “When I met with these subcontractors in May, I gave them my word that I would do everything in my power to help them by the end of July, and I am pleased to have honoured that promise. While today’s outcome may bring relief for these subcontractors, I know they have suffered for so long, and in reality for many of them no amount of money will ever make up for what they’ve gone through.”

The collapse of Pacific Highway contractor Ostwald Brothers in 2017 left many of their subcontractors in Northern NSW in financial stress, but Mr Barilaro said there would be assistance by the end of July. When he first met with affected businesses in May, Mr Barilaro gave his personal mobile phone number to every subcontractor and he had maintained regular phone contact with them since.

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis MP applauded Mr Barilaro for being true to his word.

“Politicians are often accused of making promises but not delivering, which is why I have nothing but praise for NSW Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro who has proved he is a man of his word,” Mr Gulaptis said. “Following a meeting I arranged when John and [Small Business Commissioner] Robyn Hobbs visited Grafton in May, John gave his word that he would do everything in his power to help and promised he would come back by the end of July.”

The financial assistance for the affected small businesses will be administered by the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner, Robyn Hobbs. Ms Hobbs will personally meet with each small business in the coming days to complete the required paperwork, before financial assistance is delivered, and said after months of working closely with each subcontractor, she was delighted to reach the positive outcome.

 

“In December 2017 [Roads] Minister Melinda Pavey asked me to investigate the matter, which led me to hear the harrowing tales of each small business that was left unpaid when Ostwald Bros went into liquidation,” Ms Hobbs said. “It is extremely pleasing to see the NSW Government has responded to the recommendations of my report.”

Mr Barilaro thanked the Small Business Commissioner and her team, saying said it was important that small businesses that work on NSW Government infrastructure projects have confidence that they will be supported, and that they will be paid.

“I’d like to acknowledge the Small Business Commissioner for the way she and her team advocated for the subcontractors and worked tirelessly to have this issue resolved,” Mr Barilaro said.