1 November 2023

Fair Trading and Border Force target unlicensed workers in NSW home building industry

| Andrew McLaughlin
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NSW Fair Trading and Australian Border Force officers are checking NSW home building sites for certified, licensed and authorised workers. Photo: File.

NSW Fair Trading and Australian Border Force officers have conducted a joint operation targeting home building job sites in Sydney’s north-west as they seek to crack down on illegal practices on residential building projects.

Operation Hammer was conducted in mid-October in the Sydney suburbs of Schofields, Box Hill, Grantham Farm and Kellyville Ridge by Fair Trading officials to check if residential building work was being conducted under the appropriate licensing and supervision requirements.

Border Force officers participated in the operation to check that workers on NSW home building industry job sites are lawful citizens or have appropriate work visas.

The operation followed a period of covert scouting that was conducted in response to concerns raised by the industry about an increase in unskilled workers in the NSW home building industry who are not licensed to contract work or are not supervised by accredited contractors.

As a result of the operation, Fair Trading’s Proactive Investigations Team spoke to 48 people and identified nine unlicensed contractors, each of whom was issued on-the-spot fines of $2200 per infringement. Australian Border Force did not report any results from its participation.

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“Operation Hammer is a warning to companies to stop employing unskilled and unlicensed contractors,” NSW Minister for Building Anoulack Chanthivong said in a 21 October release.

“We know there’s a strong correlation between builders breaking immigration law and those who don’t deliver quality to their customers.

“Tolerance for poor quality buildings and cutting corners for residents has worn out in NSW,” he said. “This action is tough but necessary to stop unlawful practices impacting the NSW building industry.

“This operation helps protect NSW residents from moving into poor quality and potentially defective homes.”

Fair Trading Commissioner Natasha Mann added: “Our officers, with the support of Border Force, executed this operation efficiently and professionally.

“The nine unlicensed workers are now off NSW building sites and the companies employing them will be investigated,” she added. “Fair Trading is raising expectations about building quality. It is time the industry caught up.”

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