News National Government to pay for pink batt deaths

Government to pay for pink batt deaths

Former PM Kevin Rudd at the royal commission in May 2014.
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The families of four men killed under the botched home insulation program have been compensated and money is soon to flow to affected businesses.

A royal commission into Labor’s flawed economic stimulus scheme found the deaths of Queenslanders Matthew Fuller, 25, Rueben Barnes, 16 and Mitchell Sweeney, 22, and NSW man Marcus Wilson, 19 were avoidable.

Parliamentary secretary Michael McCormack confirmed on Tuesday he had approved the payments to the four families.

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But he’s declined to release details of how much was given for privacy reasons.

The latest budget papers set aside just over $1 million for “act of grace payments” in 2015/16 and said $3.8 million was due to be paid out in 2014/15.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane’s department is finalising the details of a scheme to compensate businesses.

A submission to the royal commission said the sudden ending of the scheme – which many business operators only found out about by text message on the day the scheme closed – pushed at least 200 businesses into bankruptcy or financial stress.

A business assistance package announced in 2010 was criticised for its short timeframe and narrow coverage.

McLaughlin & Riordan partner Mark Farrell, who is representing about 100 businesses seeking compensation, said he was still awaiting key details about the assistance.

“As far as I am aware, no payments have been made to business as yet,” he told AAP.

Maurice Blackburn lawyers, who represent the Sweeney family, said a confidential settlement had been reached.

While no amount of compensation could ever bring Mitchell back, the acknowledgment by the federal government that his death was avoidable was greatly appreciated, lawyer Peter Koutsoukis told AAP in a statement.

The family now wished to put the ordeal behind them and remained hopeful lessons will be learned from the tragedy, he said.

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