Aussie construction firm York Civil goes into administration

Construction and engineering company York Civil has hit serious strife, with Ferrier Hodgson appointed as voluntary administrators to the firm that has a workforce of 400 people and is involved in freeway and bridge construction, and mining projects.

Ferrier Hodgson partner Martin Lewis said on Monday that a creditors’ meeting would be held on August 16 but the company would continue its work on all the contracts that it was involved in while he conducts a review of the operations. The company has grown from its South Australian base to have offices in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.

York Civil has been working in conjunction with ASX-listed Downer EDI on the construction of four new tram stops on North Terrace in the Adelaide CBD that has been hurt by delays and faults after the contract was awarded in mid-July last year to a joint venture between the two firms known as the Downer York Joint Venture. 

The company is also working on the construction of an upgrade of a four-kilometre section of one of Adelaide’s busiest arterial roads, South Road, in what is known as the “Torrens to Torrens” project.

York Civil was established in 1990 by Ian Tarbotton, who was still the group managing director of the company until the appointment of Mr Lewis.

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“York Civil is an iconic business that undertakes engineering and construction projects for both government and private clients across defence, power, transport, resources, water and marine sectors,” Mr Lewis said.

He said talks were being held with the company’s main customers ahead of the creditors’ meeting.

The state Labor Party’s spokesman on transport and infrastructure, Tom Koutsantonis, who was state treasurer until March this year when the Labor government lost a state election after 16 years in power, blamed the new state government’s paltry spending on infrastructure for part of York Civil’s problems.

“There is a Valley of Death in infrastructure that we warned about, and it’s here,” Mr Koutsantonis said on Monday.

That is a term most often used in the defence sector to describe the gap in work that leaves companies idle once large shipbuilding and defence infrastructure contracts are completed.

Mr Koutsantonis said Premier Steven Marshall had committed to just $37 million in infrastructure spending in the lead-up to the state election, whereas the Labor Party had outlined a comprehensive infrastructure spending program totalling $2 billion to remove dangerous level crossings, partially fund a port in the Spencer Gulf, and expand the tram network to other suburbs.

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