House debates

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Questions without Notice

Home Insulation Program

2:00 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. Can the minister confirm that, following the tragic death of an installer in October 2009, the CEO of Master Electricians Australia wrote to him on 16 October—four months ago—and urged him to take immediate action to withdraw the rebate for foil batts, warning him that ‘the potential for further fatalities cannot be dismissed’? Can the minister also confirm that in his meeting on 20 October with the CEO, Mr Richards, the minister was personally advised of the serious dangers of the products being used in the home insulation scheme and was also informed of six other incidents of electric shock? Minister, why did it take until this week, and three more deaths, for the minister to act?

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for his question. I can confirm receipt of that letter, and I can confirm the actions that attended to it and that I have just detailed at some length in a statement to the House—and the honourable member was there and he heard that statement. I can further say to the honourable member that, on 3 November, Master Electricians Australia wrote to me specifically commending me on my changes to the home ceiling insulation program. They said:

The banning of metal fasteners, mandatory down light covers and the requirement for installers to undertake further training on the electrical risks of installing insulation was immediate, proportionate and is very likely to have saved lives …

We acted on the basis of the advice that was in front of us in a way which was consistent with our commitment to safety, and we will continue to do so.