House debates

Monday, 22 February 2010

Questions without Notice

Home Insulation Program

2:36 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. I refer the minister to his announcement on 10 February of the suspension of the foil insulation program and the establishment of the safety hotline. Can the minister explain why, in the 27 television and radio interviews he gave in his own defence in the days following this announcement, he did not once mention the safety hotline number or specifically warn householders of the potential dangers of entering their roofs? How long will it take before all of the potentially 1,000 deadly electrified roofs have been found and fixed?

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 remind the honourable member that on a number of occasions, including in radio interviews in relation to this program, I have made very clear to people what the number is in relation to the Home Insulation Program. I do recall an occasion when I was first asked the question in the House on this particular matter and that the opposition made much merry of the fact that I actually quoted the number: 1800 808 571.

But can I go further and respond to the honourable member’s question by saying—

Photo of Don RandallDon Randall (Canning, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Roads and Transport) Share this | | Hansard source

You don’t know the number!

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Canning will cease interjecting and actually listen.

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

I will say that in terms of providing the public with information concerning the Home Insulation Program, it has always been the case that there was a website available for people to access. That website has had the guidelines and requirements under the scheme, and there was also posted clear information to installers under that program about what steps should be taken in relation to any risks or compliance breaches that may take place.

The fact is that we take safety seriously in the delivery of ceiling insulation. I have to say that there are a substantial number of credible, well-qualified and honourable ceiling installers who have done their job under this program according to the guidelines. They have placed insulation in people’s ceilings which does not pose any additional risks for householders. For the opposition to claim in the parliament that up to a million homes or otherwise are at risk is not an appropriate or responsible way to ask questions of me on this matter.

I am very happy to take the questions that the opposition puts to me, but I simply point out to those opposite that the information that was tendered on Friday made clear that some 75 or 76 per cent of households that had been insulated under this program had not shown compliance or risk issues associated with them and, of those that remained, it was some eight per cent where significant risk issues were attached and they would be followed up as a matter of urgency—as they always have been under this program.