News National Government working on terms of reference for judicial inquiry into home insulation scheme

Government working on terms of reference for judicial inquiry into home insulation scheme

Rueben Barnes (left), Mitchell Sweeney (centre) and Matthew Fuller died during the rollout of the home insulation program.
Share
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

The Federal Government is close to finalising the terms of reference for its proposed judicial inquiry into the former Labor government’s home insulation scheme.

Four young men died during the rollout of the scheme in 2009 and 2010 as Labor sought to stimulate the economy during the global financial crisis.

The Coalition has promised a judicial inquiry would shine a spotlight on what Labor ministers knew about warnings and dangers of the scheme.

Sunday papers published by News Corp Australia have detailed what they say are draft terms of reference for the proposed judicial inquiry.

They include the process and basis of government decisions while establishing the program, including risk assessment and management.

That suggests senior members of the Rudd government could be called to give evidence.

Hunt’s office confirms consultation with families

The office of Environment Minister Greg Hunt would not confirm details this morning, but said it was working with families of the victims to finalise terms of reference.

Mr Hunt’s office says it expects progress to be made soon, possibly before the end of the year.

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey says it will be up to a judicial commission to decide if Mr Rudd is called before the inquiry, but he has indicated the former prime minister should give evidence.

“If that is the view of the judicial commission then that’s up to them but I don’t think anyone should be excluded from providing full and frank and honest evidence before a judicial inquiry,” Mr Hockey told Channel Nine this morning.

Labor frontbench Chris Bowen has questioned whether a judicial inquiry into the home insulation scheme is politically motivated.

Mr Bowen told Channel 10 there have already been eight inquiries into the scheme and the former government adopted all recommendations.

“When I see draft terms of reference being leaked out to Sunday newspapers I do think that does question whether this is more a political process or a process designed to get to better workplace safety,” he said.

“If it’s a process designed to get to better workplace safety, then of course we would support it.”

Coroner critical of Labor government program

First-year carpentry apprentice Rueben Barnes, 16, was electrocuted while installing insulation at a home near Rockhampton in 2009.

A month earlier, 25-year-old Matthew Fuller was electrocuted at Logan, south of Brisbane, while Marcus Wilson, 19, died working inside a roof in western Sydney in November 2009.

Mitchell Sweeney, 22, died in north Queensland in early 2010.

Earlier this year, a Queensland coroner found three of the workers had not been given adequate training.

Michael Barnes also criticised the then federal government for rushing through the program in a bid to stimulate the economy.

The coroner stated there were “process failings” relating to the handling of the scheme by federal agencies that led to “inadequate safeguards”.

The Greens say the current Federal Government should adopt all recommendations made by coronial inquiries relating to the home insulation scheme.

Greens leader Christine Milne has told the ABC’s Insiders program she will look at the details when they are available, but there are steps the Government could be taking now.

“If the Government was really serious about the safety issues concerned they would have taken up some of the recommendations from the coronial inquiries that have occurred,” she said.

“One of those is that we move to a much broader implementation of safety switches for example and make those mandatory, and also that we put in place a broader education campaign.”