Opposition Leader Tony Abbott
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott

Inquiry to be held on home insulation scheme: Abbott

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott will set up a judicial inquiry into Labor's bungled home insulation program within a month of forming government if the Coalition wins the September 7 election.

Mr Abbott and opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt chose a home insulation business adversely affected by the $2 billion scheme - conveniently located in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Brisbane-based seat of Griffith - to outline details for the inquiry.

Last month, the Queensland Coroner was highly critical of the Federal Government's handling of the scheme, which was rolled out in 2009 as part of the Rudd government's $42 billion stimulus package during the global financial crisis.

Four men, including three Queenslanders, died while installing insulation.

"It is really important to get to the bottom of this for the families of the young men who died ... and for all the people whose businesses have been damaged or destroyed, whose lives have been put on hold, who've lost their homes as a result of this; we've got to make sure that this kind of disaster never happens again," Mr Abbott said.

The lobbying of Queensland couple Kevin and Christine Fuller, whose son Matthew was among those who died, was influential in shaping Mr Abbott's decision.

Mr Abbott said a judicial inquiry was needed even though there had already been two other probes of the scheme because it could "go where the previous inquiries can't".

"A judicial inquiry can investigate all of the deaths, not just the three Queensland deaths," he said.

"A judicial inquiry can summon public servants and examine them on oath in a way that couldn't happen via the coronial inquiry.

"A judicial inquiry will deal with every aspect of this, not just the commercial aspects which I gather are now subject to some legal proceedings."

This week it was revealed 65 businesses claiming to have lost a total of $100 million when the scheme was axed launched legal action against the Federal Government.

Mr Abbott rejected claims he was using the deaths of four people to score political points, adding he and Mr Hunt had been raising concerns since 2009.

Mr Rudd ducked questions relating to the home insulation scheme while campaigning in Victoria, instead referring journalists to the statement Climate Change Minister Mark Butler, who was not in the portfolio when the program was implemented, issued later in the day.

"The Labor government has taken a number of key actions in response to the recent report by the Queensland State Coroner into the workplace deaths of three young men from Queensland," Mr Butler's statement read.

The statement went on to outline Labor's plans to establish a fund, with the government to make an initial $1 million investment, to assist organisations with ideas for improving workplace health and safety and to provide better support to workers and their families affected by workplace accidents.

Eligible organisations will receive funding for projects to a maximum of $200,000.

This investment will be absorbed from within Comcare's existing resources.

The statement also listed the action already taken by the government in response to the myriad inquiries into the home insulation program.



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