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Federal Government faces litigation over insu -

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Federal Government faces litigation over insulation bungles

Broadcast: 15/02/2010

Reporter: Emma Griffiths

The Federal Government now faces legal action from a man who survived electrocution in the bungled
foil insulation scheme.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: One issue the Opposition had been hoping would keep them on a roll in the
polls is the continuing scandal over the Government's foil insulation scheme. The Coalition set its
sights on Peter Garrett again today, accusing him of neglecting the issue by failing to attend an
emergency meeting of stakeholders in Canberra.

And, for the first time, the Federal Government is facing legal proceedings from alleged victim of
the insulation scheme. Lawyers for the man predict more people will join the push for compensation.

From Canberra, here's political reporter Emma Griffiths.

EMMA GRIFFITHS, REPORTER: Colin Brierley still lives under the roof that nearly killed him.


EMMA GRIFFITHS: Last September the 63-year-old climbed up there for a look and knelt on electrified
foil insulation.

COLIN BRIERLEY: Obviously I received an electric shock that actually went in the knee and came out
of the top of the head.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: He's now launching the first legal proceedings against the Federal Government
stemming from the insulation program. He says the accident has affected his memory and balance and
given him chest pains.

ROGER SINGH, LAWYER: He was living proof to the Government of the risks associated with the
insulation program.

COLIN BRIERLEY: I don't want to it to happen to anybody else, I really don't.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: The Opposition's called for urgent action to inspect the 48,000 homes that could be

GREG HUNT, OPPOSITION ENVIRONMENT SPOKESMAN: We want a plan within the next 48 hours and we want
action completed within the next two weeks to discover and repair all of the deadly roofs.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: And it's again targeted the Environment Minister, criticising him for going bush to
make a biodiversity announcement when they say he should have been in Canberra attending a meeting
with the unions and insulation industry.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: For Mr Garrett to be off in some national park when people's homes
could be lethal thanks to his policy, I think indicates that he has completely lost touch.

PETER GARRETT, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: I don't go to technical experts meetings in the ordinary
course of events. My officials go to those meetings, as they should. They'll provide me with the
appropriate reports for them and I'll listen very carefully to those discussions that have been

EMMA GRIFFITHS: One of the key stakeholders at the meeting urged Mr Garrett in October to
immediately withdraw the Government rebate for metal insulation products. The letter was sent after
the death of an installer and warned, "... the potential for further fatalities cannot be dismissed

Nearly four months later, after more deaths, the rebate was suspended. Now the master electricians
say foil should only be used in new housing.

MALCOLM RICHARDS, MASTER ELECTRICIAN: Foil insulation's gonna be very difficult to put in the
ceilings with existing wiring in a safe manner and so we have a number of issues around placing
that in the ceiling.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: And there are still questions about the training regime for new installers, even
from within.

BRIAN TIKEY, FOIL INSULATION ASSOCIATION: We've probably gone from some 250 known installers right
across the country to some 7,000 installers. So where did they become experienced overnight?

EMMA GRIFFITHS: The ABC has obtained documents that raise more questions about the scheme. They
show that one business operating in Brisbane switched from being a telemarketer to home insulation,
and within weeks of being approved as an accredited supplier by the Federal Government, one of its
workers was killed trying to install foil into a roof.

The company says that staff member was working for a subcontractor at the time.

Emma Griffiths, Lateline.