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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9158

Home Insulation Program

Mrs MARKUS (Macquarie) (14:46): My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister inform the House of the key findings of the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program?

The SPEAKER: I call the honourable the Minister for the Environment—and there will be silence on my left. This is a serious matter and we need to hear the answer.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Was that the member for Wakefield?

An honourable member: It was.

The SPEAKER: Then he will remove himself under 94(a).

The member for Wakefield then left the chamber.

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (14:47): I thank the member for Macquarie. I can inform her that the report of the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program was tabled earlier today by the Prime Minister. Four young men lost their lives whilst working on this program: Matthew Fuller, Rueben Barnes, Mitchell Sweeney and Marcus Wilson. I know, from conversations today and in recent weeks, that time has barely diminished the pain for the families. Commissioner Hanger's report therefore makes for sombre reading. It details the litany of policy and implementation failures. The report describes the program as a serious failure in public administration. In particular, it concludes that the Home Insulation Program was 'poorly planned and poorly implemented'.

In listing the findings, three particular failures stand out: firstly, overruling departmental advice for a longer five-year program, in favour of a two-year program commencing earlier, thereby sacrificing planning for safety in return for speed of delivery, so as to pursue a practically unachievable commencement date; secondly, overruling departmental advice to use a regional brokerage model, instead changing it to a model of direct delivery by, in many cases, inadequately trained installers, in order to expedite the program; and, thirdly, replacing a viable training model with an inadequate supervision model.

The report found that the program was hurriedly conceived and hastily implemented. Specifically, the report finds that, among others, the former Parliamentary Secretary for Government Service Delivery and subsequently Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Government Service Delivery:

… at all times pushed the commencement date of 1 July 2009 despite any concerns expressed by others as to whether it was properly attainable …

The report also finds that the Australian government failed to take proper responsibility for the regulation of its own programs. We will therefore carefully consider the report's findings and recommendations. I thank the royal commissioner, Ian Hanger, and, on behalf of the government of Australia, I say to the families of the four young men: we are sorry for the errors that led to these tragedies. Nothing can bring these beautiful young men back, but we can and we will learn the lessons.