I welcome to the gallery those people who are here to honour Thomas George, the member for Lismore. What a wonderful man—and I say that as one who sits on the opposite side of the Chamber. Tonight I recognise a company in my electorate that has unfortunately become insolvent because the State Government has not paid it the moneys it owes. The company is called Transqual, which is short for “transport qualifications”. It started in the mid-1990s—24 years ago—providing training, services and education in transport qualifications. So the company has been around for quite a long time and has done some wonderful work. Even as recently as this year, Transqual trained the recipient of the State award for transport qualifications. But, unfortunately, the New South Wales Government has been unable to pay Transqual for training hundreds of persons over the past couple of years. I will summarise the problems of Transqual by reading from an email dated 14 February 2017, which states in part:
… Transqual has organised a number of catch up sessions with [Training Services NSW] STS in the last few months, only for all of them to be cancelled at late notice. This has included cancellations in November and December 2016, and no response to a number of invitations in January 2017. Transqual have also invited STS to meetings with major local clients … only for STS to cancel on the day …
… issues such as the lengthy turnaround of payment … [have] significantly impacted our cash flow while the total lack of feedback regarding the audits has exasperated our Compliance team and prevents Transqual from any opportunity for continuous improvement.
I understand Amber has been on leave for some of this time however if you could please update Transqual on the status of who we should be contacting in 2017 in regard to our issues … that would be appreciated.
That email captures the litany of problems that have occurred. For more than two years the company has been seeking payment for the training it has undertaken on behalf of the New South Wales Government. Transqual trained people from all over the State. I will provide an example of services for which the company has not been paid. Transqual, which is based in Newcastle, might take on a student, a trainee or a number of trainees in, for example, Mudgee, Lismore or perhaps Broken Hill. That is a six-, seven- or 10-hour drive from Transqual’s Newcastle base. Transqual’s options are to drive out, sign up the person, drive back to base, enter the student’s registration into the computer and then drive back out to do the training, return and enter that into the computer.
Alternatively—as Transqual did—Transqual could phone Training Services NSW and say, “We have a student who is approximately a seven-hour drive away. How about we drive out, sign them up, provide some of the training while we are there and then come back and enrol them on the system, then continue their training afterwards, and then we will seek payment?” Unfortunately, one of the bases on which payment has been refused is demonstrated by the alternative example: Training cannot commence before the system has recognised the trainee or student. That is insane and outrageous.
That is right—insane and outrageous. This private company is owed $500,000 by the Government. The company has now become insolvent. Ten people have lost their jobs in a regional company. The company was not a risk of the type referred to earlier today by the Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales, Minister for Skills, and Minister for Small Business; rather, this is a company that has operated successfully for 30 years. It is not as though the New South Wales Government was taking a gamble on a Waygu beef company or an oyster company—which is apparently what is done these days. Transqual was a certainty.
For almost two years, the Government has refused to make payment. Transqual made representations to Training Services NSW and asked for feedback. Transqual’s company management said to Training Services NSW over and over and over again, “Please call back. Please respond to the email. Please provide the information.” I have copies of email after email asking for exactly that. The company is now bankrupt and its owners have had to sell their homes. That has happened all because the New South Wales Government will not pay the company the money owed to it. That is a blight on all members of Parliament. It is completely unacceptable. I will continue to fight for Transqual in this House. The State Government must pay the people it owes money to.