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Jun 24, 2011 No Comments ›› admin
Here’s a good rule of thumb: never trust a builder.
The Federal Government has certainly learned that lesson – to its cost – in the last 12 months.
First came the shonks in the ceiling insulation business. Peter Garrett made the mistake of thinking he could rely on the honesty and decency of people in the trade and it cost him his career. Sure, he’s still in Cabinet but don’t bet on his remaining there after the election. It will be years – if ever – before he recovers from the damage dealt to his reputation by the tradies who turned a genuinely good idea into a PR disaster for the government.
Then some of the more disreputable of their colleagues tried it on in the massive school building program. There they had a tougher overseer in Julia Gillard who built in several layers of oversight to identify the rip-off merchants. But even then there were enough to cause some embarrassment.
It’s pathetic really. Clearly there’s something about the building trade that attracts the Smart Alecs and lowlifes of society. And while the Rudd Government has suffered, the truth is that the real scandal can be sheeted home to its predecessor. For it was the Coalition that introduced the GST; and that has turned every builder in the land into a serial lawbreaker.
Just ask anyone who has had a building job done in the years since that wretched, regressive tax was introduced. They will tell you: there is one price ‘on the books’ and another for cash in hand. And according to my friends in high places this applies not only to the thousands of relatively small home renovations carried out each year but to the big construction jobs as well.
This ‘black economy’ is not only costing the tax office billions in GST avoidance, it is bringing the law of the land into disrespect. And no one is prepared to bell the cat.
Whether or not it is confined to the building industry is a moot point. I suspect that a government inquiry would reveal other areas of abuse.

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