Pesticide scam left homes to termites
By SIMON LOMAX
18dec99 The Courier-Mail
FOUNDATIONS of more than 5000 new homes in Brisbane may have been sprayed
with water instead of pesticide, leaving them defenceless against termite attack.
The state's building watchdog is investigating claims that a pest controller
employed by the Guardian firm was selling company pesticides on the black
It is alleged the pest controller sprayed home foundations with water to make it
look like he was doing his job.
Building Services Authority general manager Matt Miller said an affidavit had been
supplied to him by the Forest Lake- based Termite Action Group over the claim.
Mr Miller said BSA officers would meet Guardian officials next week to arrange for
soil tests on some of the houses to check the validity of the claims.
Guardian owner Percy Bartrum yesterday ordered the pest controller to take leave
until the investigation was completed.
Mr Bartrum said he had not seen the detail of the allegations and standing his
employee aside did not mean he believed the claims were true.
But he pledged his "100percent support" for the investigation.
Mr Bartrum said Guardian pest controllers would each treat between 12 and 15 new
houses each week.
At that rate, the pest controller in question could have treated between 5100 and
6400 new homes in the nine years he worked for the company.
Mr Bartrum bought Guardian in October.
Former Guardian owner David Pearson pleaded guilty in the Queensland Building
Tribunal to incompetently applying termite treatments to a home in Moggill.
Mr Pearson will face the tribunalnext year on two other counts of incompetent or
negligent practices allegedly committed while he was the owner of Guardian.
A Building Services Authority spokesman said several more pest control companies
also were due to appear in the tribunal next year on similar charges.
Mr Bartrum said the practices in place at Guardian before he took over could have
allowed an employee to sell company pesticides for their own profit. "The missing
link was that the pest controller had control of the chemical in its concentrated
form," he said.
Mr Bartrum said as soon as he took charge, the guidelines were changed to make
his employees more accountable.
He said the pesticides were now put directly into the company's vehicle-mounted
tanks in their diluted form, rather than giving pest controllers drums of concentrate.
Mr Pearson said he was unaware of the allegations and no one had raised them
with him while he owned Guardian.
But Mr Pearson said: "We had over 20 staff and you've got to put your trust in
people to a degree. There is always a way around things."
Mr Pearson said in the past three years, Guardian had provided termite protection
to more than 20,000 homes.
"For the volume of work that we've done, there haven't been too many problems,"
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