Bureaucrats knew danger of bungled insulation scheme

Mitchell Sweeney
Mitchell Sweeney

THE mother of a Griffith man killed while working on the former federal government's home insulation plan has expressed her shock at revelations two public servants devised the scheme in just two days.

The Royal Commission into the bungled scheme heard this week from public servants in charge of implementing the scheme, which was announced by former prime minister Kevin Rudd and former environment minister Peter Garrett in 2009.

Wendy Sweeney, whose son Mitchell was killed while working on installing insulation at a Queensland property, said it "wasn't good enough" but the two bureaucrats in question couldn't be held entirely at fault.

"I think they were told they weren't supposed to tell anyone what they were doing," Mrs Sweeney said.

"They were obviously just following orders from higher up."

The inquiry has heard public servants were aware of the safety risks prior to the rollout, with environment department bureaucrats aware that shoddy insulations could result in fires, injuries and deaths as early as just one month after the scheme was announced.

Staffers were aware of a similar scheme in New Zealand that resulted in deaths, the inquiry heard, though Mrs Sweeney said she was disappointed that issue wasn't followed up in detail by the department.

Mrs Sweeney is hoping to return to Brisbane for the Royal Commission when Mr Rudd and Mr Garrett are called to give evidence as she searches for closure on what happened to her son.

She is particularly keen to hear from Mr Rudd as to why he pushed ahead with the scheme, even after it had claimed its first life.

"Why didn't he just stop and think about it, and even just halt the scheme for three or four months?" Mrs Sweeney said.


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