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Home Insulation Program (Commission of Inquiry) Bill 2011

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Home Insulation Program (Commission of Inquiry) Bill 2011

 

Explanatory Memorandum

 

The Bill establishes a Commission of Inquiry into the Home Insulation Program, to inquire and advise the Parliament on:

  • What warnings and advice on the Home Insulation Program were received by Ministers from:
    • Industry
    • Commonwealth agencies
    • State and Territory agencies
    • Unions
    • Members of the public; and

·          Any decisions by a Minister to reject such warnings or advice.

·          What the Home Insulation Program required of:

o    Commonwealth officers and agencies

o    State and Territory governments and agencies

o    Contactors; and

·          Whether those requirements were adequate to ensure compliance, appropriate quality and safety standards would be met, and the Program would achieve value for money.

·          What warnings and advice were received by agencies from industry, State and Territory agencies, unions, and members of the public - and any decisions by those agencies to reject such warnings or advice Ministers to reject such warnings or advice.

The Commission must submit a report to the Parliament, by 1 November 2011, on its findings of fact and any recommendations relevant to the inquiry that the Commissioner thinks fit.

 

All hearings are public and open to the media, unless the Commissioner determines otherwise.

 

Publication restrictions exist including on evidence given at any hearing or information identifying a person who has given evidence at any hearing.

 

The Commissioner has the power to issue a written summons served on a person to attend a hearing and give evidence, or produce documents. The Commissioner may compel a person to answer any questions the Commissioner believes are relevant. A person may not be excused from producing a document or answering a question on the grounds that it may incriminate the person or expose him/her to a penalty.

 

Statements made by witnesses or documents produced are not admissible in evidence in criminal or civil proceedings, except in offences against this Act.

 

The Commissioner has the power to issue search warrants, and to inspect, retain and make copies of documents produced before the Commission, in circumstances prescribed in the Act. The Commissioner may also arrest a witness issued with a summons who fails to attend before the Commission.

 

A number of offences exist under the Act, including penalties for:

·          Unauthorised presence at a hearing or publication of evidence

·          Failure of witnesses to attend or produce documents

·          Refusal to be sworn or give evidence

·          False or misleading evidence

·          Destroying documents or other things

·          Intimidation, fraud, bribery or dismissal of witnesses, or preventing witnesses from attending a hearing

·          Contempt of Commission.