Mark Dreyfus MP

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Home Insulation Safety Plan Joint Press Conference Parliament House 20 April 2011

20 April 2011

SUBJECT: HOME INSULATION SAFETY PLAN UPDATE

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

20 April 2011
TRANSCRIPT OF JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE – PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
E & O E – PROOF ONLY

SUBJECT: HOME INSULATION SAFETY PLAN UPDATE

GREG COMBET: Thank you for coming. I’m joined of course by Mark Dreyfus, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency who, in partnership with me as Minister, has responsibility for the wind up of the Home Insulation Program. And today we want to provide a comprehensive update on
progress in the wind up of the Home Insulation Program.

You will recall that the Home Insulation Program involved the installation of insulation in approximately one-point-two million homes prior to the closure of the program in February last year. In late February I was given the responsibility to conduct that wind up of the program. And at that time I set a number of priorities for the wind up of the Home Insulation Program. And they included the implementation of a number of inspection programs that I will go through at this press conference. Secondly of course, some assistance measures for both workers and industry were implemented. And thirdly, amongst other priorities, was the pursuit of
any acts of fraud and non-compliance and debt recovery activities on behalf of the Commonwealth.

Today we are releasing comprehensive assessments and results of the inspection programs and announcing the arrangements that we are putting in place for the cessation of the home inspection activity. Under the... as you might recall, there were two principal forms of insulation that had been installed in people’s homes. Approximately fifty eight thousand  homes had foil insulation installed. And these homes were principally located in Queensland and northern New South Wales, although not exclusively so. We instituted what’s referred to as the Foil Insulation Safety Program in relation to that form of insulation. All households that had foil insulation installed under the Home Insulation Program were offered a safety inspection with the option of having the foil insulation removed on the advice of a licensed electrician or, alternatively, safety switches to be installed. In relation to the vast majority of insulation installations that had been carried out under the Home Insulation Program, the Government committed to inspect a minimum of one hundred and fifty thousand households. And of course that’s households insulated with products other than foil. These
inspections were organised and targeted at households based upon a risk assessment that we developed under that particular program. In addition to both the Foil Inspection Program and the more broad Home
Insulation Safety Program, the Government continued to make available to any household that had concerns the ability to request a safety inspection through the Safety Hotline - the number, which is still in operation, being 13 17 92.

Based on the results that have been attained from the inspections that have been conducted and the result of independent advice and analysis, the Government will now conclude both of these major inspection programs
upon completion of the committed inspections which I’ll speak about in a bit more detail. Under the, if I can refer to it as HIP, the inspection program that dealt with the non-foil insulation, the Government will continue to undertake targeted inspections until our commitment to inspect a minimum of one hundred and
fifty thousand homes with non-foil insulation is reached. And it is anticipated that we will attain that level of inspections by the middle of this year, in two or three months time.

The Government will also, under the Foil Insulation Safety Plan, complete the inspections that we have committed to. We have done as many as we have been able to do of the fifty eight thousand homes that had foil insulation installed. And we provide you the precise numbers in the material provided today. However, some households have either refused an inspection or have not been able to be contacted. To deal with this issue, the Government will continue to offer inspections to those households that haven’t had an inspection yet. And in addition, we will place public notices in appropriate national newspapers to encourage anyone who hasn’t yet had their foil insulation installation inspected to contact the Hotline and have that inspection completed. In October last year, in order to undertake a rigorous analysis of the results of the inspections that the Government was undertaking, the Government  commissioned the CSIRO, of course an independent organisation, to do a risk profile analysis.They undertook a statistical analysis of a very large sample of the safety inspection results. That analysis examined the extent of insulation related fire incidents that occurred prior to the commencement of the Home Insulation Program and compared them to the rate at which fire incidents were occurring in homes that had insulation installed under the Home Insulation Program.
The CSIRO also informed the further development of the risk profile to help further refine our inspection programs, that is, to target our inspection programs.

A comprehensive report produced by the CSIRO we’re releasing today and I’ll refer further to it in a moment.
In January this year the Government also engaged a firm known as Booz & Co which is a leading global consultancy firm with significant expertise in the area of strategic risk. Booz & Company were contracted to provide advice and make recommendations to my department on a proposed completion strategy for the wind up of the Home Insulation Inspection Programs. And in particular, to provide independent advice to ensure that any remaining risks associated with the installation of insulation under the Program had been identified and were adequately addressed.

Now, the Government’s key priority along all of the way over the last 12 months has been safety. And the Government’s inspection program sought to reduce the fire risk specifically associated with the HIP, and reduce it to a level comparable to that which existed prior to the commencement of the Home Insulation Program. In terms of the overall results that we’re releasing today, there are some important things to understand so that these results are properly represented to the community. The results show that twenty four per cent of dwellings that have been expected, inspected I should say, did not comply with the Australian Building Code Standards. Now it is important to note, and it’s extremely important in communicating to
the broader community, that that failure rate does not equate to the same as a fire risk. What we are talking about is a failure to strictly comply with Australian Building Code Standards. But that does not mean the same as a fire risk. And I’d like to briefly just quote something on this point, because it’s very important to the determinations and the recommendations that have been made.

The CSIRO report says the following: 

“Safety risk is defined as failing to meet the Building Codes and other relevant standards identified under the Home Insulation Program Guidelines. It is expressed as a percentage of dwellings inspected. Safety risk is not the same as fire risk. The HIP Guidelines prescribe conformance to relevant Australian Standards and the Building Code of Australia where relevant. These tend to be conservative so that many relatively minor departures may not constitute a risk of fire. Further, safety risk is assessed at a point in time and conditions in the roof space will change over time due to weather, rodents, human activity and so on.”

And that’s the end of the quote. The independent advice confirms that there is always an underlying inherent
risk in having insulation installed in your home. The CSIRO analysis has confirmed that the fire risk incidents that existed for homes with insulation installed before the Home Insulation Program was around two-point-four incidents per one hundred thousand homes. And this is an extremely important reference point in the recommendations that have been made. That is, in relation to fire incidents, the pre-existing rate prior to the Home Insulation Program was two-point-four incidents per one hundred thousand homes. Now, that is based upon data that’s been provided and assessed by the CSIRO by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council. The CSIRO’s analysis shows that the risk of a fire incident occurring in homes
with insulation installed under the Home Insulation Program has now fallen to around two-point-five incidents per one hundred thousand homes. That is, it is now comparable to the pre-existing fire incident rate. And that is an important informant of the decisions and the recommendations that have been made.

The Booz & Co review - and remembering this organisation is internationally recognised for its expertise in strategic risk. The independent review by Booz & Co found that inspecting households beyond the current levels that the Government has undertaken is not likely to have a material impact on the reduction of risk.
In fact, Booz & Co recommended that the Government could cease its inspection program some time ago at the point where we had reached approximately one hundred and ten thousand home inspections with non-foil
insulation. And Booz & Co indicated that at that time further inspections were not likely to have a material impact on the reduction of risk.

Notwithstanding that recommendation, the Government of course had committed to do at least one hundred and fifty thousand homes and we will make that commitment. We will meet that commitment I should say.
I know that the material is somewhat detailed, but they are important decisions that have been taken on the basis of the work conducted by the CSIRO and Booz & Co. Today Mr Dreyfus and I released both of those reports.  They are very comprehensive reports assessing the inspection results and assessing the mitigation of risk. Both of those reports were released today.

In conjunction with that material, in order to try and put this information in more digestible form, the Government is also, through the Department of Climate Change, releasing a number of fact sheets containing the inspection results and data for the Non-foil Safety Inspection Programs, the Foil Inspection Programs, the fire incidents and statistics as at the 10th of April. The number of fire incidents associated, and confirmed associated, with the Program stood at two hundred and five. The fire statistics are contained in the fact sheets that are being released. The CSIRO report is summarised in a fact sheet so that it is more easily digested. And so too with the Booz & Co independent report, also summarised along with a key statistics fact sheet, a comprehensive release of information in relation to the program.

Finally, I’d just like to say this before turning it over for questions. On the 10th of March last year when I made a Ministerial statement to Parliament in relation to the wind up of the Home Insulation Program, I made 10 important commitments and I just wish to briefly refer to them. Firstly, the Government committed that the more than fifty thousand households that had foil insulation installed would be the subject of electrical
safety inspections. We have met that commitment. Secondly of course, we indicated that the inspections of the homes insulated with foil insulation would have the option of having the foil insulation removed, or alternatively the installation of safety switches on the advice of a licensed electrician. We have met that commitment. Thirdly, we committed that a minimum of one hundred and fifty thousand homes that had non-foil insulation installed would be the subject of a large scale safety inspection program. We will meet that commitment by the middle of this year. Fourthly, that arrangements would be maintained for householders who have safety concerns to ring and request a safety inspection. We have maintained that commitment and we will maintain that commitment for householders to seek a free inspection until 30th of June 2012, for in excess of a period of a further twelve months. So that anyone with concerns can still contact our
safety inspection hotline. We are meeting the commitment we made. Fifthly, we sought the advice, or I committed to seek the advice of Dr Ron Silberberg, former head of the Master Builders Association, Mr Peter Tighe, the national secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, Mr Tony Arnel, the head of the Building Commission in Victoria. Their advice was sought and formulated in the form of a panel on the design and conduct of the safety inspection programs. We met that commitment. Sixthly, we committed to provide assistance packages for the insulation industry and workers affected by the termination of the home insulation program. We met those commitments.  Seventh, we committed to have Dr Allan Hawke conduct a review of the design and administration of the program. He reported to the Government, we met that commitment. The eighth point was that we committed to request the Auditor General to conduct an auditor program. We met that commitment and the Auditor General conducted a thorough audit of the program and reported, of course, on it. The ninth commitment was that we would work with the Australian Federal
Police concerning potential fraudulent conduct and conduct a forensic audit of the program as a basis for identifying fraud and non-compliance. We have met those commitments, KPMG conducted an exhaustive forensic audit. The department has worked closely with the Australian Federal Police. Thirty-five, I think the number was, search warrants were executed in recent weeks and the material that was gathered for evidence, potential evidence, is under close consideration by the AFP and the Department of Climate Change at the moment. We have met those commitments and will continue to meet the commitments to deal with issues of fraud and noncompliance. And finally, the Government committed to work with police and other relevant authorities in all jurisdictions, to deal with other matters of non-compliance, and we are continuing to meet those commitments.

Finally, of course, there were a number of tragic work-related deaths associated with this program. The relevant authorities have been conducting their inquiries, in some cases charges under relevant state legislation have been laid and findings made. Coronial inquiries are still anticipated in relation to them and the appropriate courses of action are being pursued. With all of that rather lengthy introduction, because there is a lot of material to consider, I'll conclude and we'll open it up for questions.


REPORTER: Minister, just on the twenty-four per cent figure you talked about, is that twenty-four per cent of dwellings of one point two million dwellings fitted with insulation that it found to not comply with the code? Or is it twenty-four per cent of the two hundred thousand homes inspected?

GREG COMBET: It's twenty-four per cent of approximately a hundred and forty thousand homes that have been inspected under the non-foil inspection program. As I said, we will terminate that inspection program once we have met our commitment of one hundred and fifty thousand. I want to emphasise, very
clearly again, that non-compliance with the relevant building codes and standards that has been found, that represents that twenty-four per cent figure, does not represent risk of fire incidents, or actual fire incidents. That's quite a different thing and that's made very clear in the CSIRO's report. Our objective, of course, has been to ensure that we get down to a level with fire incidence that is comparable to that which existed before the Home Insulation Program.

REPORTER: Minister, as I understand the CSIRO report, it says that if you do a certain amount of targeted home inspections, up to about a hundred and sixty thousand homes, that will reduce the buy risk down to one point five homes per hundred thousand homes. Why have you decided not to do that? Seventeen thousand extra homes to get what seems like quite a good extra bonus of safety - is that a budget decision?

GREG COMBET: I don't think that's quite what the CSIRO report is saying. Again, to be borne in mind with the twenty-four per cent figure, we've been conducting targeted inspections on the basis of, excuse me, risk criteria that the CSIRO has informed, particularly in recent months. It is not to be taken as a figure
across the board, for the reasons that we've been saying for some time. It is the results of the inspections that have been undertaken on a risk assessed basis. This is the reason - to come to your question, Tom, this is the reason that the government commissioned, or the department commissioned Booz and Co, with the expertise they have in risk analysis, to have a look at the CSIRO's assessment of the large sample that they conducted of the safety inspection results, and to provide advice through the department to the government as to an appropriate point of time that the inspection program could be terminated. I think it's extremely important that that was an independent analysis of risk mitigation. And that's what it was. Their advice and their recommendation - and I can take you directly to it, it's on page thirteen of the Booz & Co report,
at the time that they were assessing this issue, a hundred and ten thousand inspections had been done at the particular time that this recommendation was first formulated. And they found that at that time, the government could cease additional proactive inspections on the basis that inspections beyond
the current one hundred and ten thousand are not likely to have a material impact on the reduction of risk. Now, we took that on board at the time but nonetheless did another forty thousand to meet our commitment of one hundred and fifty.

Now, Booz & Co's advice is still pertinent, to the extent that doing further inspections is not likely to have a material impact on the reduction of risk. However, beyond that, we are acting in a way consistent also with Booz & Co's recommendation that we will keep a voluntary inspection program open until 30 June 2012. We will make sure that people are aware of it and that they can ring the hotline on 13 17 92. That if they have any concerns, then a free inspection will be made available. And on the basis of all that independent advice, we believe it an appropriate time, once we hit one hundred and fifty thousand non-foil inspections, to bring the targeted inspection program to a close.

REPORTER: How much does this cost taxpayers, to repair homes, inspect the homes and what sort of total cost of the whole program, from when it began?

GREG COMBET: The program - the Home Insulation Program, to the point that it was terminated in February last year, cost approximately one point four five billion dollars for the installations of insulation that had been made. The  safety inspection programs that the Government has conducted to date have cost approximately one hundred and ninety million dollars. That's obviously not a final figure, because we are continuing the inspection programs on two fronts - on several fronts, but principally to make sure that we meet our
minimum one hundred and fifty thousand commitment and secondly, to maintain the inspection program that would be householder initiated, to 30th of June next year. At the point that all of that is complete, we will of course account for all of the expenditure in winding up the program and make that information public.
We've been working within the original funding envelope for the Home Insulation Program, which exceeding two billion dollars, that was allocated for its original purpose. The underspent funds, if you like, will be returned to budget at that time.

REPORTER: So that hundred and ninety million includes rectification…

GREG COMBET: Yes, that includes the inspection programs and the rectifications to date.

REPORTER: On the two point five fire risk figure, the information here shows that the fire risk was two point four, for this scheme. You're now getting it to a point where it's two point five. But if you hadn't acted, what fire risk would have been existing in the situation, without this remedial action? Would it have been higher than three, higher than four?

GREG COMBET: I think probably I can only answer that in general terms. But the evidence that is apparent and that the CSIRO worked on, drawn from data provided by the fire authorities in particular, indicates that the risk of a fire incident is greatest in the first twelve months after the installation of insulation. And of
course we are now beyond twelve months since the termination of the program. Any insulation that's been installed under the Home Insulation Program has now been in houses for at least a minimum of fourteen months. It's - that's a relevant factor in how the CSIRO has conducted its analysis and what we have seen, concurrent with the inspection programs that have been targeted and conducted with the Government, and with the ordinary experience of insulation being in a home over a period of time, is a continuing
decline in the fire incident rate. The advice that's been provided to the Government indicates that with the
current trend down in fire incidents, we'd expect to be beneath two point four incidents, fire incidents, per one hundred thousand homes, by the time we have concluded one hundred and fifty thousand inspections.

REPORTER: Minister, of the fire incidents recorded, why were so many in Victoria? Why was Victoria so different to other states?

GREG COMBET: That's an important point to note. It is something that we found both through the incidents of fires and through the targeted inspection programs. In Victoria, I think at least part of the answer to that - the CSIRO I think has a look at this in its report in some detail - but I think the simple explanation is
that we experienced difficulties with home insulation installers in Victoria perhaps at a higher rate than we did in other states.

REPORTER: What does that mean? Does that mean more dodgy installers, or…

GREG COMBET: It means that the incidents as a result of installations in Victoria have been problematic and that's quite likely to be associated with the quality of the installers that did quite a lot of work in Victoria.

REPORTER: Just putting the fire risk to one side, of these quarter of homes that have failed the building code that have had insulation installed, is the Government planning on taking any recourse against the people who've installed these - done these installations that have not been up to scratch? And secondly, of
the two hundred and five fires, do you have any information on the number of people who weren't covered by insurance and is there any sort of compensation available to people who had fires?

GREG COMBET: I don't have specific data on that, Sid, I'm afraid that I can share with you. If there is any, we're happy to make it available. But on your more broad question, the answer is, of course we are continuing to pursue noncompliance. There was a commitment that I made on behalf of the Government and it's a commitment we'll see through. For example, one of the issues that one hears ventilated from time to time is that some people haven't been paid. And it's important to see those in some context. I think we have ironed out, over the last twelve months, the legitimate issues that people may have had. But as at twelve of April, there were still eight thousand four hundred claims being held by the department, representing ten point two million dollars, for very sound reason. And there were a further eleven thousand nine hundred claims pending. They are being withheld, pending the outcome of continuing compliance activity and I can assure you, it is for very sound reason. The warrants that were issue by the Australian Federal Police and the
material that was seized during the execution of those warrants of course will form also an important basis for assessing whether actions can be brought. But it is not appropriate for me to be speculating about that.

REPORTER: The twenty-four per cent figure, thirty-four thousand homes of a hundred and forty thousand who failed the building codes - how do you describe that figure? It's diabolical, isn't it?

GREG COMBET: That's, of course - yes. I think probably the best way for me to answer that question is that there is no doubt, as I've said on previous occasions, that significant problems were associated with this program, both in its design and its delivery. As I indicated earlier, I committed on behalf of the government
to have a number of investigations conducted to identify the reasons for that, and that is all public and on the record. But I do wish to emphasise again when reporting that number, the twenty four per cent non-compliance with building codes, these are the result of inspections that have been targeted on the basis of risk assessments, whether we take into account the history of non-compliance of a particular installer, the knowledge that we may have gained about the proximity of insulation to risks such as down lights, or
exhaust fans, or flues, or a number of other factors, the form of insulation, the state that it may be in.
We were able to evolve a set of criteria that helped inform the targeting of the inspections we conducted. It cannot be implied that there is a twenty four per cent non-compliance rate across all of the homes that have been insulated, and I want you bear in mind, because we do not want unnecessary concern in the community.

Many, many reputable firms did a lot of insulation installations under this program. They did it with experienced people. They were established brand names. Some of them are publically listed companies. They provide warrantees for their product, they provide warrantees for their installation work that last for a number of years, and it is not to be imputed that the reputable installers and insulation manufacturers in this country have somehow done some wrong.

They participated in an appropriate way in this program. We did have a number of course fly-by-night operators come into this particular program. It appears of course that fraud may have been committed in some instances. Yes, there are, on the basis of the targeted inspections we conducted, a serious level of non-compliance that we've identified, but I urge you not to misreport that statistic, because it is important that people are not given unnecessary apprehension about the work that may have been done. For example, with a firm that provides a warrantee for product and installation, those firms stand behind their work, and the appropriate course if someone has a concern is to give a call to one of the major firms that may have done that work. Alternatively they can contact our safety hotline, but the true incident rate across the entirety of the population that was insulated under this program would of course be less than the rate that we've identified under a targeted, risk assessed safety inspection program.

REPORTER: You talk about the workers deaths, what about the deaths or injuries to householders? Does the Government have any figures on how many householders were killed or injured as a result of dodgy insulation
installations?

GREG COMBET: I'm not aware of any deaths.

MARK DREYFUS: No, we're not aware of any deaths associated on - with the home insulation program on the part of householders.

REPORTER: There was a house fire in Wagga, wasn't there Minister? And you put out a release on that where three people were killed, and confirmed that there had been insulation installed in that household?

GREG COMBET: That's correct, but that is not to be imputed that the insulation was the cause of the house fire. All of these things are subject to proper inspection by the fire authorities, and in, of course, that case, a coronial inquiry. It's not appropriate for me to speculate. I don't know, you know, what the results of
those inquiries are likely to indicate. They are still under way and we can't draw conclusions about them.

REPORTER: Greg, you mentioned the two point four incidents per one hundred thousand as the background level of risk. Was that known and stated in the original Cabinet considerations of this scheme?

GREG COMBET: I was not involved, and...

REPORTER: Surely in an assessment of how the...

GREG COMBET: Yeah.

REPORTER: ...program went one would look at what was originally decided. It turns out that dramatically increasing the amount of home insulation would presumably have implications for that risk profile?

GREG COMBET: You'll recall of course in - let me say a few things in relation to - firstly I wasn't personally involved, and I wasn't party - and I'm not absolving responsibility. I simply wasn't a member of the Cabinet at the time. And so I can't directly answer the question from a factual point of view. Secondly though, of course a risk assessment was conducted, and in fact it was the subject of a fair bit of vigorous debate, and I can't specifically at the moment recall all of the elements of that risk assessment. So I'm afraid that I can't cover all of that. But nonetheless we've, as I said, commissioned the inquiry by the - by Dr Allan Hawke.
We invited the national audit office to have a close look at it. Recommendations and experience, of course, emerge from all of the work that's been done in relation to the design of programs such as this. There
were some serious problems, as you well know, in the design and delivery of this program.

REPORTER: Talking about those problems, other than Peter Garret, has anyone else lost their job?

GREG COMBET: Well I'm not responsible for the public service in this respect, but you'll note from the work that was done by Dr Hawke, and again the audit office, that there are a whole host of factors that contributed to the problems that were experienced with this program, and I don't think it has been appropriate as a
consequence that, you know, a particular person is identified as responsible. All of the factors that fed into it, you know, are on the public record.

REPORTER: So no one's lost their job?

GREG COMBET: Well not to my knowledge.

REPORTER: The Booz & Co report says - mentions legal perspective and needing to do some work on the extent of duty of care between different parties. Is the Government concerned about being swept into that, or is it all the staff from installers that would be legally...

GREG COMBET: To what part are you referring, I'm sorry?

REPORTER: Page twelve, at the bottom of Booz & Co. It said that the scope of work does not provide legal advice to DCCE, but has the Department got your advice, and is there any concern about...

GREG COMBET: This is an - do you want to have a go at that? My colleague has been handling...

MARK DREYFUS: From the reason they mention it is to say that they are not taking into account legal perspective, and there isn't, as we stand here today, a firm basis for Commonwealth liability.

REPORTER: Minister, why is there no liability?

MARK DREYFUS: Sorry?

REPORTER: Can you explain why...

MARK DREYFUS: Why there isn't a firm basis for Commonwealth liability? It's that the Commonwealth primarily contracted with installers.

REPORTER: Can I ask a question about...

MARK DREYFUS: Perhaps I'd add to that there are current claims against the Commonwealth and they're being worked through. None of them have to date produced any payment by the Commonwealth. But I don't seek to litigate this in public.

REPORTER: A question on climate change and the carbon tax. Are you concerned that business is backtracking on support for a price on carbon that may not support the five per cent target by 2020? Does that - if that's happened, that's how you see the situation, does that reflect the fact that there is not the community consensus on a price on carbon that there may have been back in 2009?

GREG COMBET: I think the circumstances, obviously, in politics are very different, for a start. When this work was being conducted in 2009 there was clearly a greater political consensus, and particularly amongst the major political parties about the importance of acting on climate change when the Coalition was under Malcolm Turnbull's leadership.

And we always must not forget the history that Tony Abbott used the issue to usurp and destroy Malcolm Turnbull's leadership, and to destroy the consensus that had been developed, not only between the major political parties but with the business community and other stakeholders, that would have secured passage of the carbon pollution reduction scheme. So Tony Abbott wrecked it once, and of course he's going about campaigning on it now to try and wreck action on climate change again. It is a complex and difficult reform to make. It is a diabolically difficult environment challenge to which complex economic policy response is required. It is valid that we are - that people understand that we are not only amongst the top twenty polluters internationally in absolute terms, but on a per person basis we're the highest polluters amongst the developed economies. We've got a responsibility to deal with this issue.

As you can see from the extent of the public debate, and particularly the engagement of the business community in recent weeks in that public debate, it's a complex policy issue that reaches into every corner of the economy.

And I think the appropriate thing for the Government to do is to continue to work as constructively as we can, and that's what we're committed to with all of the stakeholders, including the business community, on why it is important we tackle this challenge, why we look in the long term, why it's in the national interest, and why we need to be building the competitiveness of our economy in the long term.

Now, part of that equation is to tackle this complex problem, and the Government's very determined to do so.

REPORTER: Minister are you confident the people doing these inspections are properly qualified, and is there any risk that they - the inspections may be dodgy as well?

GREG COMBET: We put a lot of thought into that when we designed the initial inspection program, and it is one reason I took you back to the commitments that I announced on the tenth of March last year. And for example, we constituted a panel, including people with the necessary experience, to provide advice
about the design of the inspection program. We sought advice from a range of organisations, and a comprehensive training program was put in place. Mr Dreyfus has had more recent conduct of this matter, he can describe for you exactly what that involves if you'd like to...

MARK DREYFUS: I'd just say that they're two person teams for these inspections. One of the - the senior person on each of those two person teams was required to have insulation industry experience. Both the people in the teams were required to have either trade qualifications or trade experience, and we're satisfied
that with the training program, with those qualifications to become an inspector, we've had competent inspections being carried out by the four hundred and sixty two people that have been engaged as inspectors.

REPORTER: Why do you think one of the major companies then decided to run an extra course, or an extra few days training for their people on top of what the Government...

MARK DREYFUS: Well it's entirely to be commended that one of the firms that's been engaged to carry out these inspections decided that it wanted to do additional training. It simply confirms that the inspections were properly carried out.

REPORTER: But that doesn't suggest that the training's inadequate?

MARK DREYFUS: Not at all.

GREG COMBET: Thank you very much. I appreciate you've got a bit of material there to get through, and if you've got further queries I’ll endeavour to answer them.

REPORTER: Thank you.

GREG COMBET: Thank you. See you.

ENDS