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

Home Insulation Program

Interview with Sabra Lane, ABC AM Program
12 February 2010

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EASTLEY: Peter Garrett says he isn't going anywhere, and the Environment Minister has been telling AM's Sabra Lane, he's unaware of claims his department's officials briefed state bureaucrats on the anticipated failure rates in the insulation program.

GARRETT: Oh look, I don't have any knowledge of those exchanges between the WA minister, and Commonwealth officials, but I'm surprised at the comments, because the scheme doesn't have a performance value attached to it, we're committed to getting the insulation in peoples' ceilings, but there's no design within the program that talks about performance values, or performance rates, or anything of that kind.

LANE: He says he was shocked to hear this, and the failure rate, he says, included things like faulty workmanship, and that it would lead to the people having the insulation, having to go back and have it redone, and he said that there seemed to be no care, that it was just an accepted fact that 10 per cent of homes being installed, would fail.

GARRETT: Well look, there's no advice to me in any shape or form that refers to a 10 per cent failure under this program, it's not contemplated under this program...

LANE: So your officials weren't telling you this, they were telling state officials this?

GARRETT: Well, as I say, I'm not aware of those conversations. What I can say is that from the outset we have had discussions with state authorities, we've had discussions with the training organisations, and we've had discussions with the industry, and they informed the design of this program, including its monitoring and its compliance, and our aim is for the program to deliver 100 per cent, that if there are problems in relation to insulation, that they need to be addressed, if installers are breaching the guidelines, that they need to be dealt with, that those who are trying to get around the system, who are dodgy installers, get struck off, and that there's a high level of requirement, both in terms of delivery of the program, and also of safety in the program.

LANE: This is a serious allegation, a 10 per cent failure rate, they're saying that the workmanship would be so bad that it would be hazardous not only to the home, but possibly to lives, are you concerned about this, will you follow it up with your department?

GARRETT: Well look, it's an allegation from a Liberal Party minister in Western Australia, and I'll certainly see whether there's any additional record of any conversations that have been had.  As I say, I'm not aware of any at this point in time, and the program doesn't have failure rates, or 10 per cent figures, or other such mechanisms attached to it, in terms of its delivery.

LANE: Will you quit?

GARRETT: I had the experience of coming into the Parliament and being asked a number of questions yesterday from the Opposition about my discharge of my responsibilities under this program...

LANE: Will you quit?

GARRETT: ...and I answered those questions to my great satisfaction, because I showed, I hope, in the way in which I conducted myself, that not only have we rolled out a program to over a million homes, not only have we provided the energy efficiency opportunities to the families and the households, the energy cost savings and the like, and the employment that came through the fiscal stimulus package, but as we've done that, we've brought through a regulatory framework for ceiling insulation that was never there, and we've addressed as necessary the safety issues, and lifted the bar on safety, when it was required.

The Prime Minister's expressed his confidence in me as a minister, I continue to do the job, I expect to continue to do the job.

LANE: Would you put foil insulation in your own house?

GARRETT: Well of course I would, I mean there's just no question about that, I'd get a licensed installer, who is registered under the insulation scheme, I'd make sure that they do a mandatory risk assessment, as they're required to under the guidelines that we've put in place, and I would ensure that the job was done properly, as all consumers would, and I'd just make the simple point, and that's this. It was I, as the minister, who targeted the ceiling insulation from foil in Queensland homes, it was I, who on the basis of the initial five potential cases of foil insulation in ceilings producing potential risks, made the decision, having already banned the metal fasteners, that may have caused these problems, to actually suspend the program itself.

EASTLEY: The Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, speaking there with Sabra Lane, in Canberra.



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