House debates

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Constituency Statements

Higgins Electorate: Home Insulation Program

9:48 am

Photo of Kelly O'DwyerKelly O'Dwyer (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I rise to bring the attention of the House to the latest example of the government’s failure in its billion dollar botched Home Insulation Program. After the tragic loss of lives, homes and businesses, the latest victims of the government’s home insulation scheme have been those small business people who have been tasked with cleaning up the government’s mess. Yesterday I was contacted by one of my constituents, Mrs Beverley McCracken, of Armadale. Beverley is a concerned mother and grandmother. Beverley’s son, Steve McCracken, is an electrician who has been contracted by the government through Queensland home electricity safety to conduct safety inspections under the government’s Foil Insulation Safety Program. Mr McCracken has performed over 500 safety inspections in the last two months and he is yet to receive payment for those safety inspections. He is owed $40,000.

The contract with the government says that the government will make payment within 30 days of the work being performed. It has been over 50 days, almost double that period. In Senate estimates only last week, when questioned on the time frame for payments, the department again confirmed that payments would be made within 30 days. Because he has not been paid, Mr McCracken, husband, father of two, has been forced to defer employees’ wages; he has been unable to pay his creditors on time; he has been forced to pay significant bank penalty fees and he has had to renegotiate his mortgage. The financial stress on his family and his business has been considerable. Is it any wonder that Beverley McCracken called me to ask: ‘If my son is staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, how many other small business people out there are in the same position?’

The government’s priorities are all wrong. They seem to have no problem finding $38 million for political advertising but they cannot scrape together $40,000 to pay a small businessman for cleaning up the government’s mess. They seemed to have no problem declaring a national emergency when they saw Kevin Rudd’s poll figures, backflipping on their promise not to fund political ads to spruik their great big new tax. If the government were really serious about governing, rather than politics and media management 101, they would instead recognise that the real emergency here is the threat to people’s lives and property. I do not see them rolling out a national advertising campaign to warn people of their billion dollar home insulation scheme, advising people on how to check their homes for safety. I have written to Greg Combet asking him questions about this latest failure. It is the latest failure of a government that has a pattern of failure. (Time expired)