Kevin Rudd is suing the ABC

Leigh Vogel/Getty ImagesKevin Rudd

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he has begun legal proceedings against the ABC in the wake of the national broadcaster publishing a story on the Labor government’s fatal home insulation from leaked Cabinet documents.

Four people died during the 2009 home insulation program (HIP), rolled out as economic stimulus in response to the Global Financial Crisis. The subsequent Liberal government called a royal commission into the issue, which found that “the causes of failure of the HIP were multifactorial” and “it was poorly planned and poorly implemented”.

In a statement Rudd says: “The report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) alleging that I ignored warnings on the risks to the safety of installers of home insulation is a lie”.

He says the document referred to by the ABC in its report yesterday, was considered by the royal commission.

“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 while serving as Prime Minister ‘there was no warning given of the very many problems with the program’,” he said.

The ABC cited departmental report warning of “critical risks” in the scheme in April 2009, before it rolled out, saying “many of these risks cannot be adequately managed in the lead-up to the July 1 start date”.

The ABC pointed out that “it does not specify whether any of these were safety concerns and carried a response from Rudd saying any assertion he was warned about safety risks was untrue.

Rudd’s statement today says: “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.”

Rudd says he told the ABC “these facts before publication” and “for these reasons” is now using the ABC.

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