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GBC links to new State deals

A COMPANY that rose from the ashes of the failed Geraldton Building Company has won nearly $1.6 million in WA Government contracts in the year since the collapse of Mid West’s biggest construction firm.

The company, Geraldton Building Services and Cabinets, maintains strong connections with its past.

GBSC secretary and shareholder Laurance Gallop, brother of Premier Geoff Gallop, was also a director and secretary of GBC when it was put into receivership last year.

The company owed unsecured creditors more than $3 million and a year later they are still waiting for their money.

It is understood the receivership is close to being concluded and that an action against the directors of GBC is pending, although it has not yet been served. There is thought to be an insurance policy covering that action.

It is also understood that there is a land bank of between 30 and 40 blocks in Geraldton that are yet to be sold to help repay unsecured creditors. According to the WA Government Contracting Information Bulletin Board, GBSC has tendered for 16 contracts since November 13 last year. It has won eight of them, worth a combined total of $1.59 million.

Some of GBSC’s contract wins include $41,235 for the fitout of Member for Geraldton Shane Hill’s parliamentary office, $1.025 million to construct a fisheries camp at Rat Island and $94,000 to maintain the Mt Magnet Police Station.

Mr Gallop, who claimed to be “only the company secretary”, said GBSC was going along nicely.

GBSC was bought from GBC receivers Ferrier Hodgson by former GBC employees Peter Fleay and Stephen Biglin.

Mr Gallop said GBSC and Geraldton Independent Building Supplies, a company he bought from GBC receivers Ferrier Hodgson, had been able to keep 35 former GBC employees in work.

Mr Gallop said he was unaware what stage the GBC receivership was at and had not heard anything about attempts to hold him personally liable for the collapse since last year when he was contacted by WA Business News.

Ferrier Hodgson partner Garry Trevor told GBC creditors last year that there would be claims made against all directors of the failed company, including Mr Gallop and fellow GBC director Geoff Crothers.

The past year, though, has not gone completely smoothly for GBSC.

The company has missed out on State Government tenders on three occasions, losing to Crothers Construction, a company run by former GBC director David Crothers, the younger brother of Geoff Crothers.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show that David Crothers resigned his board post with GBC and some of the companies associated with it in 1998.

He remained a director of the Geraldton Brickworks – another part of GBC – until 2000.

“I left some months before GBC got into trouble. It was a huge shock when the company went under,” he said. “It was a 108-year-old company that had been started by my grandfather.”

Crothers Construction has not just proved successful in Geraldton but also in Perth, where it has been involved with several jobs, including the redevelopment of the Perth Hockey Stadium ahead of the 16-nation Women’s Hockey World Cup due to start in less than a fortnight.

ASIC records show that David Crothers and Mr Gallop are both directors of Geraldton Cement Goods and Tiles.

Mr Crothers said that GCGT was part of GBC receivership and that his only link with Mr Gallop was a commercial one, being that his company sometimes bought building supplies from GIBS.

Mr Gallop said GCGT was a dormant company that had not been active for the past 10 years.

The records also show that Geoff Crothers and Mr Gallop are involved with Bristown Consulting, something David Crothers was also a director of until 1998.

Mr Gallop said Bristown was also a dormant holding company.

Geoff Crothers bought the Geraldton Brickworks from Ferrier Hodgson.

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