5 March 2024

Ex-Matrix boss Troy Loh calls on NSW Government to pay tradies for 2022 Wagga housing project

| Oliver Jacques
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Troh Loh insert with building

Troy Loh (insert) has spoken to Region about his role in the infamous Wagga public housing project at 16 Spring Street. Photo: Chris Roe.

The main contractor for a botched Wagga public housing project says the NSW Government is responsible for compensating tradies still awaiting payment for the development completed 18 months ago.

The NSW Government’s Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) chose Troy Loh’s construction company Matrix Group Co Pty Ltd to manage the building of four units at 16 Spring Street in early 2021, even though the company was insolvent at the time.

READ ALSO Timeline: How the Wagga public housing scandal unfolded

When Matrix officially went into liquidation in October 2021, it left a string of mum and dad subcontractors unpaid for work they did to construct the Wagga dwelling.

Later that month, the company’s director was the subject of a ‘Where’s Troy Loh?’ expose by Channel Nine’s A Current Affair, who alleged he’d disappeared owing tradies across the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“There’s a lot of accusations that I just ran away with the money, but that’s not true,” Mr Loh told Region.

“LAHC didn’t pay me the final payments from the Wagga project, of around $150,000; they should have paid the subcontractors directly.

“LAHC have a lot to answer for … the project was completed, Matrix was removed from the contract, it’s only the right thing to do for the government to use the money we didn’t receive to pay the subcontractors.”

The LAHC Wagga housing debacle occurred under the previous Coalition government. LAHC is now under the responsibility of NSW Labor Housing Minister Rose Jackson. Both LAHC and Minister Jackson have refused repeated requests from the unpaid tradies to be compensated directly.

Rose Jackson in a hard hat

Tradie Amy Burns is disappointed with NSW Housing Minister Rose Jackson’s response on the Wagga housing debacle. Photo: Twitter.

Subcontractors Oasis Scaffolding and Bricklaying ($90,000), Wagga’s AC Electrics ($64,000), Plaster Pros Wagga ($55,000), New-Crete Concreting ($28,000), Wagga Glass and Aluminium ($42,000) and JMooney Roofing ($54,000) have also told Region they are still owed large sums of money on the NSW Government housing project, despite completing their work in 2022.

Amy Burns of Oasis Scaffolding said she was “gobsmacked” to learn new construction company Matilda Build Australia was advertising Mr Loh’s services as a consultant.

“He left a lot of us out of pocket, he should be black banned from the construction industry,” Ms Burns said.

Mr Loh disagrees.

“I’ve got 20 years’ worth of experience in construction; having learnt from the failures and challenges there’s a lot that I offer. People seek my consulting services. I’ve also done work for [Sydney-based company] Australian Property Care. I’m not contracting; NSW Fair Trading has removed my business licensing. I have no ambition to go back into contracting.

“I was just a carpenter; I built Matrix from nothing. I paid my contractors for 10 years. It all came crashing down after 2020, when I had to deal with LAHC and their abuse of power.

“[Staff] at the department had it in for our company and were rejecting all our claims.

“There was an element of bullying from LAHC, that is my opinion … I now steer people away from working with government.”

READ ALSO ‘Wrong letterbox’: Supreme Court insolvency hearing on Griffith’s Warburn winery delayed by alleged postal mix-up

Region asked LAHC if it did not pay Matrix its final payments of $150,000, why this money wasn’t given to the unpaid subcontractors and how it responded to Mr Loh’s bullying claims. In response, LAHC said Matrix was not entitled to the final payments as the works had not been completed and strongly refuted allegations of bullying.

A previous investigation by Region revealed LAHC/Homes NSW bureaucrats failed to see a public online notice revealing Matrix Group Co was uninsured, and somehow also missed another public online notice indicating it was in liquidation – continuing its contract with the Sydney-based company after both of these events.

Mr Loh said a lot of compiling issues led to the demise of Matrix with COVID being “the final nail in its coffin”.

Ms Burns also questioned recent Instagram posts showing Mr Loh holidaying in Europe, wondering if he was living it up while tradies owed money were struggling.

“It’s been three years … I have a well-off girlfriend who paid for travel,” Mr Loh said. “I was also hurt financially. There’s been serious ramifications for me personally. I’m renting and don’t own a car; I can’t even get a phone in my name; I can’t get finance.”

Ms Burns says that since LAHC chose Matrix while it was insolvent, LAHC should compensate her now that Matrix is in liquidation.

Wagga MP Joe McGirr has also urged the NSW Government to pay Ms Burns and other affected tradies directly.

Region previously asked Minister Jackson if she would take any action against LAHC bureaucrats for choosing an insolvent company to build public housing, but she did not respond.

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