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Calls to protect payments following builder collapse

The federal government has been urged to do more to protect worker payments following the collapse of several construction companies.

Independent senator David Pocock said the federal government was overdue in reforming the area to ensure subcontractors who have completed work receive their pay, should companies go under.

The comments come in light of the collapse of PBS Building, which left the future of many construction projects in NSW, ACT and Queensland up in the air.

Senator Pocock said a 2017 review calling for improvements in payment security legislation had not been enacted, leaving thousands of workers in the building sector at risk.

"We've seen no action from the ACT government or the federal government and it's not good enough, we have to act on this now to protect tradies who have done work," he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday,

"We have the review, we have all the recommendations, we know how to deal with it, we need the political will."

The review, conducted by John Murray, made 86 recommendations at the time, including a harmonisation of payment security laws across the country, with different rules in place in different jurisdictions.

CFMMEU national secretary Zach Smith said the implementation of the reforms was urgent, given more than 1300 businesses in the sector have collapsed in the current financial year alone.

"This is endemic in our industry. We've had yet another corporate collapse and millions owing to subcontractors who have performed work, and this is work that's already been completed," he said.

"It comes to a very basic principle that you should get paid for the work that you've performed. But unfortunately, that doesn't happen in the construction industry."

Unions and advocates have called for a statutory trust to be set up that would protect money owing to subcontractors for work, should a company go into administration.