News State Queensland Arbib to front batts inquiry

Arbib to front batts inquiry

Insulation installers at a protest outside Parliament House Canberra
A royal commission into the Rudd government's home insulation scheme will begin tomorrow.
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Former Labor senator Mark Arbib will be grilled about his role in the Rudd government’s disastrous home insulation program on Monday.

Mr Arbib will be the first government minister to appear at the royal commission into the deaths of four tradesmen, with former environment minister Peter Garrett and former prime minister Kevin Rudd to follow later in the week.

Queenslanders Matthew Fuller, Rueben Barnes, Mitchell Sweeney, and Marcus Wilson from NSW, lost their lives during the 2009 rollout of the stimulus scheme.

At the time, Mr Arbib was responsible for co-ordinating the government’s economic stimulus programs. He’s expected to be pressed about whether boosting the economy was put ahead of worker safety.

The inquiry has already been told Mr Arbib and Mr Rudd’s office believed job creation would be comprised if training requirements for the program were “too onerous”.

It has also heard of confusion in the Rudd government over which minister was actually in charge of the home insulation program.

It was unclear whether Mr Garrett or Mr Arbib was in charge and, at one stage, a document was even drafted to establish the relationship between the pair in relation to the scheme’s development.

Mr Garrett’s political adviser Matt Levey has already told the commission he never understood where Mr Arbib’s involvement ended or began.

“It made it very difficult for Minister Garrett to drive the direction of the program,” his statement said.

Mr Garrett is scheduled to give his evidence on Tuesday and Mr Rudd will take the witness stand on Wednesday.

Former Labor frontbencher Greg Combet, who oversaw these scheme’s closure, will give evidence on Friday.

Mr Fuller’s father Kevin and Mr Barnes’s sister Sunny are expected to address the commission on Thursday.