Judicial Inquiry into pink batts scheme Oct. 27, 2013, 12:16 p.m.

27 October, 2013 Uncategorized0
Sunday October 27, 2013
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Judicial Inquiry into pink batts scheme

Oct. 27, 2013, 12:16 p.m.
  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey. Photo: Dominic LorrimerPrime Minister Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Treasurer Joe Hockey has added to calls for a judicial inquiry into the home insulation fiasco to include witnesses from the senior ranks of the first Rudd Government, including Kevin Rudd himself.

Mr Hockey said on Sunday that no one should be immune from giving evidence about the so-called pink batts scheme in which four young men died.

“I don’t think anyone should be excluded from providing full and frank and honest evidence in front of a judicial inquiry,” he said.

According to reports, the draft terms of reference for the inquiry call for a full explanation of the then government’s decisions about the $2.8 billion program, and if any steps could have been taken to avoid the deaths of four young insulation installers.

Mitchell Sweeney, Marcus Wilson, Matthew Fuller and Rueben Barnes died between 2009 and 2010 while working on jobs funded by the capital spending program at the height of the global financial crisis.

“The judicial commission is to be conducted in such a manner as to enable the families of the deceased tradesmen and all others who have suffered loss and damage (to get) the maximum transparency and access to information disclosed by the evidence before it,” the terms of reference say.

The ten terms of reference include:

– The process and basis of government decisions while establishing the program, including risk assessment and risk management;

– Whether the death of the four men could have been avoided;

– What if any advice or undertakings given by the government to the industry were inaccurate or deficient, and;

– What steps the government should have taken to avoid the tragedies.

If Mr Rudd is called it is almost certain that his then environment minister Peter Garrett will also be called to give evidence and former senator Mark Arbib who was parliamentary secretary to the minister and worked on designing and delivering the program.

The inquiry, which could pave the way for compensation claims by the families of the dead men, is due to be finalised by June 30 next year.

Three Queensland businesses were prosecuted for workplace health and safety breaches as a result of the pink batts tragedies and a NSW gave evidence before a NSW coroner’s inquest.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said he had no comment.

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