Monday, 18 October 2010
Questions without Notice
Home Insulation Program
My question is to the Prime Minister. On Friday the Prime Minister conceded that the government’s insulation scheme had become ‘a mess’. In that context, why did the government ignore the paramount advice of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts that it needed five years to safely roll out the Home Insulation Program, instead putting greater priority on stimulus over safety? Who was responsible for the decision to reject the department’s advice?
I thank the member for his question. Yes, I used that terminology last Friday. As the member may recall, I used that terminology in the House on, I believe, the very first day I was Prime Minister. I have used it consistently since. So there is nothing new in that. I have said to the Australian people consistently—before the election, during the election and now—that this program did become a mess, and the government brought it to an end. Having brought it to an end, obviously the government is working through compensation and inspection questions. We had the Hawke review and then of course we had the Auditor-General’s report. What members of parliament would see from the Auditor-General’s report and I think what they would conclude as a simple matter of common sense is that a lot has been learned through this process. It has been learned by government and the relevant department. They are important lessons.
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order under the new requirement for being directly relevant. The whole import of that question was, ‘Who was it? Who was responsible for signing off on the rejection of the advice given by the department?’ The question is clearly directed—
The question started with a reference to my statement last Friday, drafted in by whoever drafted the question, and I am responding to that part of it. Having responded to that part of it, I will respond to the other part of it. The other part of it goes to the question of government processes about economic stimulus. The government acted on economic stimulus through cabinet processes, through particularly the strategic policy and budget committee. Decisions were made to roll out economic stimulus in the face of the global financial crisis because we were not prepared to sit idly by and watch hundreds of thousands of Australians be robbed of the benefits and dignity of work, with all that that implies for them and their families’ futures.
I presume the member’s question gets to the issue of responsibility, and I am very happy to say yes, the government take responsibility for the Home Insulation Program. We are absorbing the lessons from the Auditor-General’s report.
The Prime Minister will resume her seat. The Manager of Opposition Business continually prattles—that is the only way I can describe it—through the whole of question time. That is outside the standing orders. There are many in this House who would ask me to take action against him. I would just ask him to recognise that it would assist if he sat there quietly.
Can I conclude by saying the government do take responsibility here. The government are moving through. We brought the Home Insulation Program to an end. We had the Hawke review. We have the compensation issues. We have the inspections which are rolling out. Could I suggest to members of the opposition that if they truly want to deal with these questions then at some point they should honestly reflect in the parliament what was said in the Auditor-General’s report and the lessons that can be learned from it. I would refer particularly to the statements in the Auditor-General’s report about the role of the department and the question of advice.