Private Members Business – Home Insulation Program

I second this motion. In an open and transparent democracy the public deserves to know the rate of failure of all inspections carried out to date and this government must be held to account. I support this motion because it is in the national interest but also because there is a great deal of anxiety amongst homeowners in my electorate of Bonner. Homeowners in Bonner have made numerous representations to me concerned about whether or not they are living in a house with significant safety defects. In addition a number of homeowners in Bonner have asbestos or a risk of asbestos in their roof but had foil insulation installed. These homeowners have a well-founded concern about safety but are feeling left high and dry in relation to these issues. They have been told that they must remove the asbestos from their roof before their house can be further inspected or the insulation removed. This is likely to be at an incredible cost and many of these homeowners are senior citizens.

The government’s Home Insulation Program cost taxpayers $2.5 billion and from its inception it has been an outrageous failure of policy and implementation. As we all know now, and it is confirmed by the Auditor-General, this program was linked to at least 207 fires and the tragic deaths of four insulation installers. As we all know now this government rejected all attempts to warn them of the issues associated with this program and all attempts to shed light on what was really going on with fraudulent claims. This government preferred to put the safety of the public and the accountability of government below their own self-preservation.

While the government now is conducting safety inspections of houses fitted with insulation, in October the Auditor-General’s report found that there had been 29 per cent failure rate-that is, nearly one in three jobs done under the government program were dodgy or dangerous. The Auditor-General found a one in three failure rate but this government has decided that it will only inspect one in five houses at risk. That is not good enough. The most striking issue is that the one in three failure rate discovered by the Auditor-General is based only on a small sample of nearly 14,000 homes. One hundred thousand safety inspections have been carried out now, so it is time to stop hiding the truth.

Anecdotally, I understand that the rate of failure and the number of dodgy jobs is now much higher than one in three. In fact at one inspection that was carried out on Friday of last week an old Queenslander house with non-foil insulation was found to have failed Australian standards in three areas. Firstly, the depth of insulation was too low. Then there was not enough adequate clearance of cellulose around the downlights. Finally, the cellulose was not restrained around the cavity. They were all failures of Australian standards. The inspector said that almost all houses he had inspected did not meet the Australian standards and in 100 per cent of cases he had found the specific issue of cellulose not being restrained around the cavity.

So it is time for the government to come clean. Importantly, this motion also seeks to uncover the number of asbestos related problems. As I mentioned, homeowners with asbestos in their roofs are being left high and dry. It is outrageous for residents to be told that they must remove the asbestos from their roofs before any further inspection can take place or the insulation can be removed. Residents are well aware that the government had no problem in allowing the insulation to be installed in roofs with asbestos in the first place without appropriate oversight, so they must do whatever is necessary to assist these homeowners to rectify the issue that now exists. In the words of Mr Barry Reardon from my electorate of Bonner:

The government has been responsible for getting us into this mess. It has a responsibility to get us out of it.

It is unacceptable for this government to claim that the extent of failures should be withheld because its release could cause unnecessary apprehension. What is causing unnecessary apprehension in the electorate is the lack of information for the public to make informed choices with, particularly in relation to whether or not to remove or remediate the insulation installed under this program. I urge all members of this House to support this motion. It is in the public interest to do so.

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