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Opposition calls on Garrett to suspend scheme -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Opposition says the Government should immediately suspend its entire home
insulation scheme.

Its spokesman, Greg Hunt, says if the Government doesn't halt the program by this weekend it should
explain to the public why it won't.

The Opposition says the Government was given no fewer than 19 warnings and that major safety and
training problems have been exposed in the hasty rollout of the multi-billion dollar program.

But far from answering the challenge the Environment Minister Peter Garrett pulled out of a public
event this morning,

In Canberra Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Peter Garrett was hoping to return to the pleasant aspects of his portfolio - a
speech on biodiversity. But the problems besetting the Government's multibillion dollar home
insulation program keep coming.

The Environment Minister cancelled his engagement at the Australian National University this
morning.

AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERISTY SPEAKER: Now a day is a long time in politics and we heard at eight
o'clock this morning that the minister is not going to be able to give his keynote address.

REPRESENTATIVE: The Minister sends his sincere apologies for not being here this morning. He was
very keen to do this opening address but he's been called away and so he's asked me to give his
talk on his behalf.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mr Garrett had to attend meetings on home insulation.

He's already suspended the use of foil insulation. The Opposition says the minister's time has run
out.

GREG HUNT: Overnight we've had the 19th warning revealed. This came from a senior member of the
Foil Insulation Association.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Coalition's climate spokesman Greg Hunt says the entire home insulation scheme
should be suspended.

GREG HUNT: What we've seen here is that the Government was warned before it started the program
that there would be massive issues of cowboys flooding into the system. A good sector has been
turned bad because Mr Garrett ignored the warnings.

With each passing day it's absolutely clear that the minister ignored the warnings, hasn't dealt
with the problem and surely now must go.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Do you believe that the home insulation scheme should be suspended?

GREG HUNT: The Government has to consider the future of the entire scheme. We want an auditor...

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But does that mean suspending it now until the problems are worked out?

GREG HUNT: We want an auditor general's inquiry immediately. We called for the suspension of the
foil batt component which had proved to be the most risky. So the Government has to explain this
weekend why it is not suspending the scheme if it chooses not to suspend it.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The entire scheme?

GREG HUNT: The Government has to explain why it won't suspend the scheme. It must consider that
situation. But let's get an auditor general's inquiry started immediately with fires, with electric
rooves, with tragedies and with a billion dollar blow out there can't be any reason for the
Government to deny, delay, defer an auditor general's inquiry.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: At the same time the Government is considering whether there should be an audit
into roof-top solar panels.

In June the Government wound up the long running rebate scheme which started under the previous
government with some 52,000 systems still being rolled out over the next few months.

Concerns have been raised about the ramifications of any incorrectly wired panels - not the solar
panels themselves.

While the big spotlight is trained on the Government's administration of the home insulation
economic stimulus program the Opposition's environmental policy is under scrutiny.

Kevin Rudd's former climate policy adviser economics professor Ross Garnaut has labelled the
Coalition's direct action blueprint an exercise in "central planning".

ROSS GARNAUT: To think that regulation, decision by bureaucrats and governments can reach the right
conclusions is I think delusional. I thought that debates over government taking huge decisions
about resource allocation ended with the fall of the Soviet Union.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Greg Hunt defends the Coalition's new plan to cut emissions.

GREG HUNT: In relation to our program I have offered to have a briefing and a discussion with
professor Garnaut. I have great respect for him.

The difference between our program and the Government's is Mr Rudd will give $40 billion to big
business for doing nothing. Under our scheme only those firms which actually reduce emissions will
be able to bid in to sell the lowest cost abatement.

So it's a market approach of selling the lowest cost abatement, finding the cheapest outcome to get
the quickest result for Australia. And I'd be more than happy to sit down with the professor and to
explain it to him.

But professor Garnaut says it isn't a market based system at all.

GREG HUNT: Well we are offering a system which operates like the Australian water market which is
to purchase the lowest cost abatement in the fastest possible way to reduce emissions and nobody
would benefit under the Coalition's scheme unless they actually reduce emissions.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Greg Hunt, the Coalition's environment spokesman speaking to Alexandra Kirk in
Canberra.