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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Launch of Green Start; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; death of insulation installer

E&OE transcript
Doorstop interview: YWCA, Canberra
25 November 2009

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GARRETT: Today's announcement by the Government of Green Start is our opportunity to provide low income and disadvantaged households with the information and the resources they need to reduce their energy bills and to help contain greenhouse gas pollution. And I am really pleased that we are providing the opportunity around Australia for low income and disadvantaged households to be able to have the information that they need to make good energy choices and to know where they can go for programs and for those simple products that can help them reduce their energy costs and help them contain greenhouse gas pollution.

Tackling climate change is an absolute priority for this Government and we have in place a number of complimentary measures which will see Australians have every opportunity to start containing and reducing greenhouse gas pollution.

But today's announcement of Green Start, here at the YWCA in Canberra, is our very, very strong signal that we want all Australians, including those who are less advantaged, to have the opportunity to take on board those energy efficiency measures which we know can make a difference to their pocket-books and to our atmosphere.

JOURNALIST: So do you believe that the ETS will pass this week, Mr Garrett?

GARRETT: Well, whether the ETS will pass or not this week it would be a braver man than me to venture at this hour of the day any view about that, other than saying that is clearly is the intention of the Coalition now that Mr Turnbull has come from the party room to support the Government and the amendments that were negotiated are there for the Senate to determine. And I think it is time for the Liberal Party to recognise that it stands at an historic junction in its own history. Is it going to be consigned to reprising the past, to looking backwards or is it going to join the Government in moving forwards on having a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, on providing the necessary measures in our national economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? It is up to those Senators, it is up to those Liberal Senators and it is up to Malcolm Turnbull to ensure that he can provide the leadership to deliver that vote.

JOURNALIST: So does it concern you that he hasn't been able to unite the party on this?

GARRETT: Well look I am not going to say a great deal more about what we have seen over the past day and a half. I am here to say that we are getting on with the business. We realise that there are significant opportunities for Australians who want to do something about dealing with climate change, who want the opportunity in their homes to put in place those energy efficiency appliances, to take those little measures that they can to reduce their energy bills. We are providing them with that opportunity, the country needs to be provided with that opportunity for us to have a market signal in place, which is what a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will deliver. And that is now up to Mr Turnbull and his Liberals to get on with the job.

JOURNALIST: Mr Garrett, are you disappointed with the compensation that has had to be reached with the Opposition in terms of providing more compensation to coal fired stations and electricity generators?

GARRETT: At the end of the day the Government wanted to bring forward a scheme which delivered in terms of economic responsibility and environmental effectiveness and we have a scheme. And that is critical. It is absolutely essential that we get started and we need this CPRS in place and we need to provide Australians with the opportunity whether they are the companies in question or whether they are individuals, to get on with the business of responding to the changed circumstances that we face; an urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But to be able do it in a framework which is contained, which is set out and which is economically responsible.

Now that is what we have provided, that opportunity is now clearly there. The Government has done its part; it is now up to the Opposition to follow through.

JOURNALIST: But is offering an extra $7 billion to polluters the way to do this?

GARRETT: Well everybody has to play their part. Everybody needs an opportunity to contribute and everybody has to have certainty in
terms of their planning that the actions that they take will both follow clearly and properly the desire and need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over time, but to do it in a way where there is certainty, to do it in a way which is economically responsible. We have delivered a set of amendments, amendments to this Bill, which mean we can put in place legislation to get going on the job. I think that is what people want and it's what I know the nation needs.

JOURNALIST: Minister the death of Marcus Wilson after working installing insulation in the roof of a house in Sydney, was that a needless death?

GARRETT: Look I am very saddened by this young man's death and I do know that state authorities are looking closely at the circumstances behind it. I have asked my Department to work closely with those state authorities as the circumstances behind his death are explored.

What I would say is that safety is an absolute priority for this Government in terms of our Home Insulation Plan. We take the issue of safety very seriously and I have a strong expectation that all companies and all installers will ensure that they conduct their activities in a way which is consistent with our guidelines, consistent with the state based regulations including Occupation Health and Safety regulations that cover all of these matters, and that they exercise a proper duty of care over all those that are working with them.

JOURNALIST: So it is just the cowboys out there in the industry that are putting people's lives at risk?

GARRETT: Well again, I don't want to speak about this specific case until we have more details because it is under investigation at present, but I have repeatedly said that we look extremely, extremely dimly upon anybody who breaches guidelines, who isn't following the appropriate regulations, both the state based regulations of Occupational Health and Safety and those that we have identified for this job to be done safely. We have already struck installers off the register, we won't hesitate to do that again if we find any installer in breach or for any reason where they're jeopardising the safety of their workers.

But as I have said this is a matter for the state authorities to properly consider now and I don't propose to add any other comments at this point in time.

JOURNALIST: How about better training of the installers?

GARRETT: Well until the Government introduced this scheme there was no national training at all and we now have an accredited national training scheme. And I do note in this case that the person who has regrettably suffered this fatality was the subject of training.

There is an expectation by the way that every single person who installs insulation under our program does it consistently with the Occupational Health and Safety guidelines that apply in each of the jurisdictions.

Now, as to the circumstances of this case, we need to wait until these investigations are concluded but I simply say again: safety is a priority. We have training measures in place, we are making sure that the installers comply with the guidelines and we will work closely with the state authorities on any issue that arises.

[ENDS]

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