Pink batts scheme ‘poorly planned, implemented’: commission

Public servants got a hospital pass in the rollout of the home insulation program, the royal commission reports. But those who knew about the danger should have acted.

The department responsible for the rollout of the home insulation program was ill-equipped to manage the process, the royal commission examining the scheme has found. And public servants who were advised of the risk of injury and death neglected to act.

Ian Hanger’s final report into Labor’s “poorly planned and poorly implemented” economic stimulus program is damning of both government and the bureaucracy. It’s also critical of the lack of co-operation from the Commonwealth in providing evidence to the royal commission — with a few exceptions among exemplary public servants.

The report, tabled in Parliament this morning, says the government relaxed health and safety regulations and allowed the use of dangerous foil sheeting in the program, which resulted in the deaths of four installers in 2009 and 2010. Hanger says there was an “inherent” conflict in ramping up the installation of pink batts 15-fold in an effort to stimulate the economy, and the government failed to manage the risk to installers.

He is highly critical of the speed of the decision-making, with a “practically unachievable commencement date … unrealistically adhered to”. Workers were exposed to an “unacceptably high risk of injury or death”:

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