Order of Australia Medal honoured to man who has saved billions of dollars for others

Bay PR

90-year-old Geoffrey Jochelson from Kensington, Sydney, has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal for introducing The Security of Payment Act – a legislation that now allows contractors to recover disputed payments without having to go to court.

Geoffrey is not the kind of guy that comes to mind when you think about construction payment disputes. He’s softly spoken, even tempered, and not a baseball bat in sight.
His passion and motivation was fuelled by memories of his father, an electrical contractor in Johannesburg, being bluntly told that he wouldn’t get paid for his work. And not once, but many times.
He lobbied the NSW state government for nine years through the 1990’s, and persisted under three different premiers. Then in his 70’s, he worked through endless proposals, meetings, government assessments, and all the difficulties that go with trying to bring into existence entirely new law. At the same time, he had his full-time role as commercial manager at the National Electrical Contractors Association to keep him busy.
Finally, at the end of 1999 it all paid off. In that year, the New South Wales Government made the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act into law.
It is a statutory process where payment disputes get decided by an adjudicator in a rapid compulsory adjudication scheme.
A payment dispute can go from a claim to a decision in only six weeks. The Security of Payment system allows parties to bypass the lengthy and costly litigation route that forced many contractors to abandon the payments due to them, and to go into liquidation.
It was so successful in NSW that it was adopted by Victoria in 2002, Queensland in 2004, and by 2009 every Australian State and Territory. It also spread to New Zealand, Thailand, and Singapore.
Over the last 20 years, over a billion dollars of payments have been recovered using the Security of Payment process.
In the last year alone, Anthony Igra, managing director of Contractors Debt Recovery recovered more than $8 million in unpaid money and over $70 million in the last 14 years thanks to the Security of Payment Act, putting money back in hardworking contractors’ pockets.
“Geoffrey Jochelson’s work has effectively blasted a hole through the age-old roadblock facing unpaid contractors – no time and no money. Recovering disputed payments used to take months or years and cost a fortune in court proceedings. Geoffrey changed all that.
Now a payment dispute can be decided in about five weeks at a tiny fraction of the cost. It’s not an overstatement to say that he single-handedly changed the face of construction cashflow around the entire country,” said Anthony.
Who says one old man can’t change the world?
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/Public Release.