Shadow over public housing contract

A CONTRACT to build public housing dwellings in Teralba has been thrown into disarray after the construction arm of St Hilliers Group was placed into voluntary administration yesterday.

The Lake Macquarie suburb was set to be home to one of 12 social housing projects totalling 181 dwellings across the state earmarked for disadvantaged families.

But that plan has been left in limbo following the company's decision yesterday to appoint voluntary administrators.

St Hilliers was handed the $25 million contract in March after a company engaged in a federal government stimulus program failed, leaving many of the dwellings half-built.

The construction union is urging the state government to back the struggling building firm.

The administrators, from Moore Stephens Sydney Corporate Recovery Group, were appointed at St Hilliers Construction Pty Ltd after an associated company, St Hilliers Ararat Pty Ltd, went into liquidation yesterday.

But the CFMEU is confident the company will be able to trade out of difficulty with support from the state.

St Hilliers Ararat had failed to secure an additional $150 million to finish the public-private expansion of the Victorian Ararat Prison.

CFMEU state secretary Brian Parker said he had been reassured by St Hilliers that it could trade itself out of trouble, with no subcontractors owed money, and all employee entitlements up to date.

"We're not asking for any money, they don't need any money, all they need is to continue on operating," Mr Parker said.

State Finance Minister Greg Pearce said NSW Public Works would hold a meeting with St Hilliers and the administrator to discuss the government contracts.

"Early indications from the company are that it will be seeking to complete contracts with the NSW government and will seek to return to a viable trading position," Mr Pearce said.

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