THE HON GREG COMBET AM MP
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
Joint-op targets Home Insulation fraud
In an extensive joint-agency investigation between the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the Australian Federal Police (AFP), 35 search warrants were yesterday executed across three states, targeting alleged fraudulent activity under the Australian Governments now-closed Home Insulation Program (HIP).
The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, said the action taken in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria was the direct result of a comprehensive forensic audit undertaken by the accounting firm KPMG, commissioned by the Government in 2010.
On 10 March last year, I committed on behalf of the Government to pursue those unscrupulous operators who had fraudulently abused this Program," Mr Combet said.
The work undertaken since then by my Department, the AFP and KPMG, has been central to identifying the extent of fraud under the program. The execution of search warrants is an important milestone in ensuring every possible avenue is used track these alleged offenders, he said.
The companies and individuals targeted in yesterdays warrants were identified as having allegedly committed serious fraud.
Mr Combet said the Government and the Australian people were rightly disappointed that the Home Insulation Program had been tainted by alleged illegal conduct and the possibly fraudulent behaviour of a number of individuals.
Through this action we are ensuring that the Australian taxpayer is not being ripped off by a minority which took advantage of the Program, Mr Combet said.
While the Government has been upfront in relation to acknowledging there were problems in the design and implementation of this Program, there were some installers who took advantage of the Program for financial gain, and didn't care about the impact that would have on the industry.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, said that by bringing to account people who defrauded the program, the Government was helping to restore confidence in the insulation industry.
This is an ongoing investigation and we will continue to work with other Government agencies to identify other possible cases of fraud and misconduct under this Program, Mr Dreyfus said.
In addition to the ongoing criminal investigation, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has today launched a comprehensive Debt Recovery Program. The aim of the Debt Recovery Program is to identify all debt owed from fraudulent or non-compliant activities undertaken during the Home Insulation Program, and to recover money owed to the Commonwealth.
Almost 2,000 letters were sent out today putting installers on notice that their debt to the Commonwealth must be paid. These installers now have 30 days to either pay the debt or raise any issues, Mr Dreyfus said.
As this police investigation is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further on these matters.
THURSDAY, 3 MARCH 2011