LET DOWN: The Wave 5 contractors, with Gary and Jo Fenner at front, telling their story of unpaid work for the highway.
LET DOWN: The Wave 5 contractors, with Gary and Jo Fenner at front, telling their story of unpaid work for the highway. Adam Hourigan

How 23 unpaid sub contractors plan to get their $7.5m

A GROUP of Pacific Highway sub-contractors chasing $7.5 million worth of unpaid invoices have met to plan the next stage of the campaign to get their money.

Early on Anzac Day morning the owners of seven family-owned businesses met in Gulmarrad for the latest meeting to discuss campaign progress.

Their businesses were left unpaid when Queensland construction firm Ostwalds collapsed in August last year.

The contractors are disappointed there has been no attempt to track down the money owed to them or to audit statutory declarations required from each contractor to say they have fully paid their sub-contractors.

A spokeswoman for the group, Jo Franklin, said these documents would reveal Ostwald Bros had claimed to have made payments to its sub-contractors, when the payments had not been received.

"They knew they had not paid for July, but put in their stat dec for August," Ms Franklin said.

The contractors said the RMS and NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey needed to honour promises made at public meetings in Grafton and Angourie two years ago.

"There had been issues of non-payment at previous highway sites," Ms Franklin said.

"People asked Bob Higgins (RMS Pacific Highway general manager) if they should be worried about getting paid.

"He got up and said it was a government job and everyone would be paid."

A spokeswoman for Ms Pavey said as a former small business owner and operator in regional NSW who has taken a risk, employed people and created jobs the Minister understood the challenges faced on a daily basis.

"Unlike the Labor Party who throw around taxpayers money we understand that making payments between businesses is a fundamental commercial issue for businesses in any sector to consider when signing contracts," she said.

"A strong governance framework on infrastructure projects is in the interests of all taxpayers and if there are further improvements to be made to protect sub-contractors then we will do that.

"Fundamentally allocating work is a matter for head contractors."

The Daily Examiner asked the RMS for comment and will publish it when it arrives.