QLD:’We Didn’t Expect Death’, Batts Probe Told

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Monday, April 7th, 2014
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A management consultant hired to prepare a risk assessment for the Rudd government’s home insulation program says she had no idea installers could die.

Four young men died after the scheme was launched in early 2009 during the global financial crisis.

Margaret Coaldrake, the then-Minter Ellison Consulting chief executive, is giving evidence at a royal commission investigating whether the men’s deaths could have been avoided.

Ms Coaldrake says she wasn’t a “risk assessor” but was hired to assist the federal environment department to identify and assess risks that may impact the program’s successful implementation.

She had no recollection of anyone in the department flagging installer death as a risk.

“I don’t recall anyone saying to me an installer could die or be injured,” she told the inquiry on Monday.

But the risk of house fires and possible heat exhaustion of Queensland installers were discussed at some stage, she said.  Counsel assisting Keith Wilson asked Ms Coaldrake why death or injury wasn’t considered a risk to the commonwealth.

“I didn’t understand it could happen,” she replied.

But Ms Coaldrake later agreed the risk of installer injury was raised at a workshop she facilitated on March 23, 2009.

A risk document developed from that meeting showed “injury to installers” listed twice under a heading of installation quality.

But “injuries to installers” wasn’t included in the risk register prepared by Ms Coaldrake on April 9, 2009.

She said she couldn’t recall there being a deliberate decision to take it out.

Ms Coaldrake also told the inquiry she wasn’t aware of safety issues surrounding the use of foil, a product linked to three of the deaths.

The royal commission before Ian Hanger QC continues in Brisbane.

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