Project Trust Accounts

New project trust accounts (formerly PBAs)

A new project trust account framework

Project bank accounts (PBAs) have been required for certain Queensland Government projects valued between $1 million and $10 million (including GST) since 1 March 2018. The requirements for Project Bank Accounts are set out in the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act 2017 (the BIF Act).

These laws are changing. Amendments to the BIF Act made by the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (BIFOLA) will  implement a simplified trust account framework. The new project and retention trust accounts will continue to protect payments to contractors, as well as reduce the administrative burden for head contractors. 

From 1 March 2021, the new trust account model will apply including the following changes:  

  • fewer accounts required – one project trust account per project, but only one retention trust account per contractor (formerly one per project), if cash retentions are held – the disputed funds account has been removed and replaced by added protections for subcontractors
  • more subcontractors protected – by extending the range of work and monetary value that is covered by the project trust
  • statutory charge over retention amounts – will make beneficiaries secured creditors in the event of bankruptcy  
  • viewing access for principals – has been removed for trust accounts
  • the QBCC will have greater oversight – of the trust account framework including the ability to undertake audits, require independent audits of accounts, receive notifications about trust accounts, freeze trust accounts and appoint a special investigator.  

Until then, the current PBA requirements continue for certain State Government building projects valued between $1 million and $10 million (including GST).  

Contractors who open a PBA under the current requirements will be able to transition over to the new streamlined framework when those laws commence.

Expanding project trust accounts to more projects

The new trust account requirements will be expanded to cover more projects and protect more subcontractors in phases to ensure industry has time to adapt and prepare for the changes – eligibility for each phase will be defined by who is the project owner (or the principal) and the contract price for the project as outlined below: 

PTAs phases 

Applies to  

1 March 2021 

Eligible state government contracts valued between $1M and $10M (excluding GST). This cohort presently uses PBAs. Applies to contracts “tendered” from 1 March 2021.

1 July 2021 

Eligible government and Hospital and Health Services (HHS) building and construction contracts valued at $1 million or more (excluding GST). Applies to contracts “tendered” from 1 July 2021.

1 January 2022 

Eligible private sector, local government, statutory authorities’ and government-owned corporations’ building and construction contracts (entered from commencement) and valued at $10 million or more (excluding GST). 

1 July 2022 

Eligible private sector, local government, statutory authorities’ and government-owned corporations’ building and construction contracts (entered from commencement) valued at $3 million or more (excluding GST). 

1 January 2023 

Full implementation

All eligible building and construction contracts (entered from commencement) valued at $1 million or more (excluding GST) and subcontractors working on project trust account projects that hold cash retentions, will need a retention trust account.