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Abbott savages Garrett over risk report -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says it's inconceivable that the
Environment Minister Peter Garrett only read a critical risk assessment report about the
Government's axed home insulation program 11 days ago. The report was handed to the Environment
Department 10 months ago and it warned of several problems with the Government's program.

Mr Abbott says the revelation is more evidence that the Minister should be sacked. This morning
senior public servants from the Minister's department are being quizzed by a Senate committee about
the report and when the Minister was made aware of its contents.

In Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Thursday week ago, when Peter Garrett gave a strident defence of his handling of the
home insulation program to Parliament, he cited the Minter Ellison report as one of the pieces of
advice the Government had commissioned, and used in designing its ill-fated insulation program. He
promised that night to table the report, and he did so quietly last Friday afternoon.

Yet it emerged today that Mr Garrett's office only received the report 11 days ago, despite the
report being handed to the Government last April, 10 months ago. Fran Kelly asked Mr Garrett about
it on Radio National this morning.

FRAN KELLY: So just to be clear. You only read the Minter Ellison report 11 days ago?

PETER GARRETT: That is correct. I only saw the full Minter Ellison report and read it in its
totality last week.

TONY ABBOTT: Are we going to see decisive action from this Prime Minister or is he yet again going
to be Prime Minister blah blah.

SABRA LANE: Opposition MPs led by Tony Abbott down pounced on the admission.

TONY ABBOTT: It is absolutely inconceivable that a report that the Minister himself commissioned
was not actually seen by the Minister until a fortnight ago. It is absolutely inconceivable. I

f the Minister and his department did know about this report and it would be ineptitude on an
extraordinary scale if they didn't, why didn't they act upon it? And if the Minister did know about
the report and didn't act upon it, why won't the Prime Minister sack this Minister for monumental
incompetence which has led to tragedy for dozens and dozens of Australian households.

DENNIS JENSEN: There have been now four deaths in roofs and yet, you know, we get the Sergeant
Schultz excuse, I know nothing.

SABRA LANE: A Senate environment, communications and arts committee is examining the insulation
program. This morning, the public servant chiefs of the environment department fronted the inquiry,
to talk about the Minter Ellison report.

But first, the department's secretary Robyn Kruk wanted to acknowledge the four installers who'd
died during the program's rollout.

ROBYN KRUK: I am very aware that investigations of these matters are still underway but I do want
to use this as an opportunity to express my sympathy and regret to those families.

SABRA LANE: Ms Kruk says prior to the Government program, that the industry had inherent risks and
that it was impossible to make 100 per cent safe. Committee chairwoman, Liberal Senator Mary Jo
Fisher.

MARY JO FISHER: What role does the office of the Federal Safety Commissioner play in programs such
as this?

ROBYN KRUK: The role of the office of the Federal Safety Commissioner (inaudible). They, I am happy
to take some advice on that.

MALCOLM THOMPSON: I can't recall have a direct discussion with the office you mentioned but I would
have to take that on notice.

MARY JO FISHER: Is it normal for programs funded by the Commonwealth to be scrutinised up front
from a safety perspective by the office of the Federal Safety Commissioner.

ROBYN KRUK: I will take that on note.

SABRA LANE: The officials confirmed Minter Ellison delivered its risk assessment report to the
department on April the 9th last year, but also revealed to the hearing, there was an additional
document which hadn't been disclosed until now. The department's first assistant secretary, Malcolm
Forbes.

MALCOLM FORBES: We had other information from Minter Ellison as well which included a large risk
register as well.

SABRA LANE: The public servants say information from the Minter Ellison reports were embedded into
the design of the policy and incorporated in weekly meetings, and that specifically the reports
hadn't been raised with Mr Garrett or his office.

MARY JO FISHER: The Minister is of the view that he saw a copy of the Minter Ellison report on or
around the 11th of February and I think he said on radio today "I only saw the full Minter Ellison
report and read it in its totality last week". What do you think the Minister means by the full
report and read it in its totality last week?

SABRA LANE: The department deputy secretary Malcolm Thompson.

MALCOLM THOMPSON: Well, our records indicate that a copy of the Minter Ellison report was only
provided very recently to the Minister.

ROBYN KRUK: Can I go back to the fact that I don't think there is anything untoward about the
Minister not having seen the risk assessment earlier. I mean I would anticipate, no please, please
hear me out, I would anticipate that one; that his office and he were aware in relation to the risk
assessment process being undertaken early on in the piece.

Secondly in relation to some of the changes that were made to program design so I don't think there
is an issue about him not having cited it.

SABRA LANE: Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham wanted to know the price tag for the advice.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: How much is Minter Ellison being paid for their consultancy work?

MALCOLM THOMSON: Well, we'll have to take that on notice.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Nobody...

MALCOLM THOMSON: I don't have the figure with me.

ROBYN KRUK: I don't have the information on me.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: None of the other officials do, Ms Delahunt looks like she is flicking through
the papers.

MALCOLM THOMSON: No.

ROBYN KRUK: No, but we'll endeavour to provide you that advice quite quickly.

SABRA LANE: The Government shut down the program on Friday, announcing a revised scheme would start
with tougher rules from June the 1st.

ELEANOR HALL: Sabra Lane in Canberra.