Prime Minister Tony Abbott has flagged a compensation scheme for businesses who lost money when the former Rudd government suddenly shut down its home insulation scheme following the deaths of four young men.
Addressing Parliament this afternoon as part of the government’s interim response to the Royal Commission into the scheme, the PM said he’d asked environment minister Greg Hunt to recommend options for compensation for the four families whose sons were killed, as well as the home insulation businesses who lost money and were forced to close.
The Royal Commission recommended compensation be paid.
“Matthew Fuller, Rueben Barnes, Mitchell Sweeney and Marcus Wilson, went to work and tragically they did never return home and the report makes it clear that their deaths could have been avoided had things been done differently. That’s why Minister Hunt and the Minister for Finance have been asked to recommend options to compensate their next of kin, because, although nothing can bring them back, the Barnes, Fuller, Sweeney and Wilson families should know that government won’t walk away; that government accepts responsibility and will do its best to make amends,” Abbott said.
“Pre-existing home insulation businesses, large and small, have suffered significant losses as a result of this programme. They trusted government and were let down. So I’ve ask the Attorney- General, the Minister for Industry and the Minister for Finance, to develop options for a scheme that will compensate those pre-existing businesses who were adversely affected.”
Mr Abbott said the public servants responsible will also be held to account.
“I do wish to stress, though, that this is not a witch-hunt but we do need to recognise that the home insulation programme was a tragic failure; a failure of bureaucracy and a workplace failure as well as a political failure and all of us should learn from this failure,” he said.
An external expert will also be appointed to conduct a further review to examine and address the issues and recommendations relating to the role of government in the program.
“This expert will examine the role of ministers and officials in the development of policy and the delivery of programmes to see what lessons can be learnt,” the PM said.
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