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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5571


Mr WOOD (5:17 PM) —I start my contribution to this matter of public importance by saying we definitely need to inspect every house in this country which has been installed with insulation. It is easy for the government members to say: ‘Hey, don’t worry about it; there is no need to do it. We have already had 174 house fires.’ What greatly concerns me is those people who have had their houses insulated who do not take the initiative to ring the hotline and just think, ‘She’ll be right; there’s no need to act.’ You normally find those who are not the keenest to make the phone calls to follow this up are the more vulnerable in our community.

The big disgrace of this program is how the vulnerable were basically picked off one by one in suburbs like Boronia and Berwick in my electorate where we had cold calls and doorknocking. For example, one of my residents, Mr Noel Abson from Belgrave, heard that some elderly friends of his in Croydon had had some insulation installed, so he went over to see how it was all looking. He was concerned about the danger of a house fire. Before he went up in the ceiling he asked the elderly resident there, who wishes not to be named, ‘How long were the installers here for?’ She said, ‘They were here for an hour. Actually it may have been a bit more because they did not have a torch.’ The installers did not even have a torch. That is the sort of training and process the government put in place where basically anyone could be an installer and these companies started up overnight. Mr Abson has some experience in this field and actually went up in the roof. The installation company claimed the rebate for installing 80 square metres of pink batts, which equates to 145 batts. Sadly, he found there were 130 batts missing. The company had ripped the insulation in half. These are obviously very dodgy installers. This has been happening right across the country. It is an absolute disgrace. We need to find out from the Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency how many dodgy installers are currently being investigated by the AFP and how many investigators there are for each of these investigations.

In my electorate of La Trobe over 4,000 houses have had insulation installed under this program. Government members say, ‘Hey, there is nothing to worry about; there will be no fires.’ To me, that is absolute rubbish. We have to look at what the experts say. The Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Melbourne’s MFB has advised that the 800,000 homes insulated must be inspected. That is not coming from the Liberal Party and that is not coming from the Nationals. That is coming from an expert. The reason there is great concern, coming up to winter, about the potential for fires is simply that people leave lights on longer at night. That is a great concern for elderly residents, who live in fear. The government members again say, ‘Hey, people do not live in fear.’ On 3 March I was contacted by Jacqui and Alex Qureitem of Berwick. Mr Combet knows this name very well. They were greatly concerned with the insulation that they had had installed and they thought there could be a fire hazard at their place. They were not using their lights and were taking precautions not to use their ceiling fans. We lobbied the minister’s office to get an inspection. Eventually, there was an inspection on 27 March and the problem was supposed to be resolved.

The people who attended were actually the same people who installed it. How bizarre is that: the people who create the mess are the ones there to fix it! We arranged for a second inspection and they said that it was a fire danger and a dodgy job. Finally, on 24 May after the company had supposedly re-attended, we got another inspection carried out. There were two inspections on the one place and both came back reporting that it was a fire danger. That is a disgrace and that is why I am so concerned that households right across this country potentially in this upcoming winter are going to have ceiling fires and eventually it is going to cost the life of some elderly person who will not use the hotline and who will be at home, turn the lights on and suffer the consequences of this disgraceful scheme. (Time expired)