House debates

Monday, 22 February 2010

Questions without Notice

Home Insulation Program

2:51 pm

Photo of Tony AbbottTony Abbott (Warringah, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is again to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. I refer the minister to his home insulation scheme which, despite the 20 warnings he received and ignored, has resulted in 240,000 homes with unsafe or substandard insulation, 6,000 jobs under threat, at least $50 million to be spent on home audit costs, 1,000 homes electrified, at least 93 house fires and the tragic loss of four lives. I ask the minister: will he take personal responsibility for this public policy disaster and will he apologise to all those people who are now less safe as a result of his program?

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 Leader of the Opposition for his question. I certainly do acknowledge that, where there has been a tragic loss of life in relation to the potential linkages between this program and a fatality, that is a matter of great concern to me, as it is to everyone in the House. I make the point as well to the Leader of the Opposition that I have made no judgment on the cause of those fatalities, neither should I in my position as minister and, frankly, neither should he in his position as opposition leader. These matters are the subject of inquiry by relevant state safety authorities and, additionally, potentially, by coronial inquiry. It is abuse of the position that we hold—to be able to speak to the nation as a whole—to infer, prior to properly and fully understanding the consequences of any incident, what has or has not caused this matter.

It is the case, regrettably, that there have been these fatalities and the association with this program has been identified. I very, very much regret that. In terms of the honourable member asking me about responsibility: I take responsibility for delivering a program that the government designed to achieve the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, for dealing with the challenges of the fiscal stimulus package responding to the global financial crisis, for providing the opportunities for extra employment and for ensuring that the program was delivered in a way which was safe, and that training standards were in place to enable us to do that. At every step of the way I have taken advice from my department as to what appropriate measures should be in place to ensure those goals of risk management.

Photo of Andrew LamingAndrew Laming (Bowman, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Laming interjecting

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

The member for Bowman is warned!

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

I will continue to do that. I will continue to exercise my responsibilities diligently as the minister for the environment.