Minister for Public Works Robert Schwarten.
Minister for Public Works Robert Schwarten. File

Housing victims blast MP

VICTIMS of Bundaberg’s failed builders have branded Minister for Public Works Robert Schwarten “delusional” and “an arrogant pig”, after he defended the Building Services Authority’s performance in the region.

In parliament yesterday, Mr Schwarten touted a Bundaberg couple, Ray and June Logan, as a success story for the government’s building industry watchdog.

“They are now in their home, and anybody who suggests in the Bundaberg area that the BSA is a toothless tiger simply does not understand the realities of life,” he told parliament.

But customers of collapsed builders Coral Coast Homes, Steelsmart Homes, and Bundaberg Master Homes say the “reality of life” is that the BSA had to be forced into action.

“Minister Schwarten and (BSA general manager) Ian Jennings do not understand reality,” Coral Coast Homes victim Denis Seth said.

Despite a payout under the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme, Mr Seth said he was out of pocket by at least $15,000 in repairs because the BSA did not act on warnings about the dodgy builder.

“The BSA knew Coral Coast Homes was going down, and did nothing to stop it,” he said.

“The Office of Fair Trading has given (Coral Coast Homes director) John Biles a fine, but the BSA can’t even do that.”

Mr Seth said the authority would not help him, until he went to Member for Burnett Rob Messenger and the media.

Nola Binder, who also built with Coral Coast Homes, said while the BSA payment eventually covered her costs, she went in circles trying to get help.

“They weren’t interested until Rob Messenger took it to Parliament,” she said.

Another customer, David Kapp, said Mr Schwarten’s statement was ludicrous.

“The reality is that we are out of pocket and the system is corrupt,” he said.

“The BSA did the bare minumum of work and it will not fix mistakes made on my house.”

Steelsmart Homes customer Chris Dalby described Mr Schwarten as “delusional”.

“Trying to justify the existence of a whole department by quoting one happy customer out of hundreds is just absurd,” Mr Dalby said.

“Bloody Schwarten didn’t help me, the arrogant pig.”

Five other customers told the NewsMail yesterday that they were not helped until they approached the media or their MPs, and were eventually left short-changed.

However, former GJ Gardner customer Mr Logan said he had nothing but praise for the BSA.

“It was a long process, but the outcome was excellent,” he said.

“We are very happy with what the BSA did.”

Member for Burnett Rob Messenger said while he was happy the Logans had received help, there were countless more who were left struggling.

“For every success story, there are hundreds of people who have been let down,” he said.

“It is a reality of life that the BSA is a toothless tiger.”

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