Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has hit out at claims which he says suggest that he ignored safety warnings about the former home insulation scheme.
In a strongly worded statement released on Twitter, Rudd said he has launched legal action against an ABC over its reporting involving a cabinet document which warned of ‘critical risks’ to the scheme.
Whilst the ABC pointed out that the documents did not specify whether or not the risks related to safety, Rudd says any suggestion in the report that he ignored safety warnings was false.
“The report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) alleging that I ignored warnings on risks relating to safety of installers of home insulation is a lie,” Rudd’s statement read.
“First, the cabinet document referred to by the ABC was given to and considered by the Royal Commission into Home Insulation Program by the Abbott Government in 2014. Therefore, this is not a new document. Abbott gave all my government’s cabinet documents to the Royal Commission on the Home Insulation Program, against the advice of the Prime Minister’s department and the Australian Government Solicitor. And having seen this document, and all other relevant cabinet papers, the Royal Commission concluded that there was no finding to be made against me, and in fact that whilst serving as Prime Minister, ‘there was no warning of the very many problems with the program’ (page 271 of the final report)”
“Second, the risks referred to in the cabinet document used in the ABC report refer to financial and administrative risks to the program for the Commonwealth, not safety risks to workers.”
“The ABC was told of these facts prior to publication.”
“For these reasons, legal proceedings against the Australian Broadcasting Commission have now commenced.”
Rudd’s statement follows an ABC report in which that the broadcaster revealed that a report to cabinet dated April 6, 2009, warned of ‘a large number of critical risks’ to the home insulation program.
In its report, the ABC suggested that this contradicted claims made by Rudd before the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program in 2014 that he was not made aware of risks associated with the program.
2009: Four men died under the home insulation program. All were under 25
On its AM program this morning, the ABC stressed that its report specified that the document had not been clear about what these risks related to or whether they related to safety.
Announced as part of the $42 billion economic stimulus program, the $3.9 billion Energy Efficient Homes Package provided rebates of up to $1,600 for owner-occupier home owners to install ceiling insulation in existing homes along with an increase to existing incentives for landlords to install insulation on rented properties and increases to an existing rebate for solar hot water.
However, the program was withdrawn in February 2010 amid safety concerns following the deaths of four young workers.