Mr LYNCH (Liverpool) [10.29 p.m.]: I again draw to the attention of honourable members the unsatisfactory behaviour of Champion Homes. On 9 August I raised in this place many of the problems being faced by people using Champion Homes. I then specifically mentioned the problems being experienced by five families. I certainly spoke to other families who had had similar experiences but I could not mention any of them individually because Champion, in return for completing or rectifying work, extracted non-disclosure clauses from those people. Champion's response to these issues is quite instructive.
Mr Wayne Mather, who purports to speak on behalf of Champion Homes, inferred to a local newspaper that one of the families that I had mentioned knew nothing at all about the matter I had raised in Parliament. That was a lie by Mr Mather, as my solicitor subsequently pointed out to him. His claim was certainly contrary to the written document provided to me by the family concerned. The second lie that Mr Mather told—his second claim—was that on 18 August Champion had been given the all clear by the Department of Fair Trading. On 1 September the office of the Minister for Fair Trading told me that that was definitely not the case.
Subsequent to the comments that I made in this place in August I have received further complaints. For example, Mr Bruce Etherington of Wattle Grove saw reports of my comments and contacted me to say that his experiences with Champion were identical to the ones that I had described. He had been promised a completion date of April-May and, as at September, he was still waiting for completion. One of the more recent complaints that I received is from the Giannini family, which comprises Sharon, Mark and their five children. They were previously victims of the HomeFund catastrophe. Despite that setback, and with both Mr and Mrs Giannini working full time, they decided that they would attempt to own their own home. The children were particularly excited about this new dream home and were looking forward to having a larger house with more bedrooms.
Unfortunately, their dream home turned into a nightmare because of Champion. The building contract was dated 11 February 2000 and 26 weeks was allowed for construction. It has still not been completed and it is unlikely to be completed before Christmas. Champion said that plans would be lodged with Camden council in late January or February. They were not lodged until mid-March. Champion said that it would have the plans approved by council within two weeks. In fact, they were not approved until 16 May. Champion failed to supply supporting documents such as shadow diagrams when the plans were first lodged. Documents were lodged for approval at the Water Board. However, Champion refused to retrieve the approvals until a number of approvals for other properties were also ready for collection. That, of course, slowed the process.
These events obviously caused delay. Champion then attempted to say that the tender price had changed and increased by $2,000 because of the delay. Given that the delays were largely caused by Champion, it is not surprising that the Gianninis remonstrated with Champion, which then miraculously reviewed its position, although it still insisted that it wanted an extra $1,000. One extraordinary aspect of the issue was the case of a drop-edge beam, which was going to cost an additional $7,000. The beam was said to be necessary because of the height of the land at the front of the block. There was more fill there than was necessary or than had been approved by council. That extra fill necessitated the drop-edge beam.
Of course, the fill had been put there by Champion Homes. If it had done the earlier excavation on the site correctly there would not have been any excess fill. The drop-edge beam made the house higher. Because of that it caused a lot of extra materials to be used, for example, extra bricks and stairs and the necessity for an extra railing on the verandah. On 7 August Mr Giannini sent a letter to Champion pointing out some of these issues. On 28 July Mr Giannini sent a letter to Camden council stating that he wanted no changes to the council-approved plans without its consent. Of course, the drop-edge beam was not on the council plans. Despite this the beam went in and the slab was laid on top of it. After raising all these concerns Champion Homes miraculously agreed that the cost of the extra work would be reduced to $1,800, to be shared equally between the Gianninis and Champion. That was clearly unacceptable and eventually Champion retreated.
The list of problems with the construction continues. For example, Champion delivered the wrong front door. The door opening was too small. Nails were not hammered into joints but next to them. One of the bedroom windows was too high. Most concerning is the fact that the slab that has been laid appears to be crumbling. The frame overlaps the slab and on other parts the frame does not sit properly on the slab. It has been inspected by a building consultant who has issued a page and a half of defects. Other things, such as footpaths, have been put in incorrectly. Scaffolding was delivered too early, before the second storey work was to be done. The supplier was heard bragging that he had made a lot of money for things that were not necessary.
The Gianninis tried to obtain redress. One of the things that they did was to speak to a local newspaper. This provoked a Champion Homes representative into claiming that this would be a breach of the Giannini's contract with Champion. Of course, that would have been an unconscionable provision in such a contract. It is equally the case that there was no such provision in the contract, so that tawdry attempt at blackmail failed. Champion has also been quite keen to try to intimidate people into not making contact with newspapers or politicians by the use of the threat of legal proceedings. I ask for an investigation of the Gianninis' complaints and a broader investigation into whether or not Champion is a fit and proper organisation to hold building licences in this State.