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Monday, 23 May 2011
Page: 4007


Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (11:54): I rise to speak on the Home Insulation Program (Commission of Inquiry) Bill 2011, and it will be no surprise that I speak against the bill. As the honourable members for Chifley and Parramatta have outlined, the government is focused on getting on with the job of remediating the home insulation program through its safety inspections. We have made significant progress towards delivering on our clear commitments under the home insulation safety plan, and the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency last month provided a comprehensive update of progress to date. Throughout the process we have been open and transparent in encouraging a number of inquiries into the program through the responsible and considered release of data.

From the outset our plan has been to work to restore confidence in the retrofit residential insulation industry. This approach is supported by the insulation industry but not by the opposition. Instead, they would like to score some cheap political points and try to get a headline or two while doing nothing to work constructively. They prefer to be destructive to the home insulation industry. At each stage of the remediation process, the opposition have sought to publicly distort the facts around this issue, which has served to undermine public confidence in the inspection programs and the insulation industry in general.

In November, the opposition moved a motion in the House to push for the early release of data from the home insulation safety inspection programs. This followed several offers by the government last year to provide the opposition with private briefings on the safety inspection results. If the member for Flinders were truly concerned about this issue, he would have taken up the offer for these private briefings. Instead he seems more interested in boosting his public profile. At the time, the government explained that we intended to act on the advice of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency that to release the data prior to it being analysed would create misleading representations of results, cause unnecessary alarm in the community and undermine confidence in the industry. Of course, the opposition was not interested in any of these things, but the House did not support the motion when it came to a vote in February.

As we know, the government has now released all of the data in the appropriate form, following the analysis by the CSIRO and Booz and Company. As the government has repeatedly maintained, this considered release was the responsible course of action and has ensured that householders have been provided with the appropriate analysis of data so that its release would not cause unnecessary worry. However, causing unnecessary worry with fear campaigns is clearly not something that concerns the opposition when it comes to home insulation. Throughout this process we have seen attempts by the opposition to undermine the industry and distort the facts. Just last month, the Leader of the Opposition told an audience of business leaders in Melbourne that the government had installed 'combustible batts' in homes across the country. This might be one of the Leader of the Opposition's one-liners that he goes around repeating. In his budget reply speech there were a few one-liners to get the audience laughing—the opposition are full of negativity but have absolutely no plan. While the opposition leader seeks to undermine confidence, provide inaccurate information and denigrate properly done work by reputable installers, we on the government benches will continue to work to restore confidence in this industry.

This bill represents yet another political stunt from the opposition. Rather than assisting the industry, a royal commission would open this issue yet again, treading over ground that has already been covered through a number of inquiries that the government has previously supported and undertaken into the closure of the program. As I have stated, the government intends to restore confidence in the industry. The retrofit residential insulation industry is worthy of support. If you listened to the opposition you would think that somehow all insulation was bad. In fact, insulation is an effective way to improve the energy efficiency of homes. It keeps heat in during winter and lets heat out during summer. In terms of bang for your buck, it is one of the best things that householders can do to improve comfort and save energy in their homes. But you would not know that from listening to the opposition. The government's focus is on restoring confidence in the retrofit residential insulation industry, and I urge the opposition to get behind the government and the industry in this approach.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The time allocated for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.