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The photos that shame Garrett’s insulation scheme

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The photos that shame Garrett’s insulation scheme

by Smartcompany's Patrick Stafford:

Insulation industry experts have attacked the Government’s insulation rebate program, saying rorting by unscrupulous and unsafe installers has already led to the deaths of four installers and has put hundreds of homes at risk of fire.

These experts have given SmartCompany photographs of a home in the Melbourne suburb of Vermont South, which has sustained massive fire and smoke damage, allegedly as a result of newly installed insulation.



A consultant with the insurance company involved with the investigation of the house fire, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says the insulation in the house was only installed three days ago.

“This home only burned down two days ago, and the insulation was installed just the day before. We’ve just had the fire investigator point this out and he found some trigger points where the insulation was sparked around the lights.”

The comments come as several industry leaders have pointed out the dangers of shoddy installation methods, particularly involving the dangerous mix of insulation and electrical fittings. If lights or other electrical cablings are not protected from the insulation, fires can occur.

Peter Gerster, who owns and operates Melbourne-based insulation company Golden Fleece, says he has never seen such damage in more than 50 years of industry experience.

He says the problems are a direct consequence of the Government’s $1200 rebate scheme, which has prompted workers to enter the industry using dodgy, cheap materials obtained from overseas.

“The insulation market is a mess. There is this house that has just burned down, and I had a phone call from an industry friend a few days ago saying the insulation there was looking dodgy and I had better get up there to have a look at it.”

Gerster says Environment Minister Peter Garrett has a lot to answer for, and wants the scheme to be reworked so underqualified installers are banned from operating.

“The Government knew about it about eight months ago, and they have done absolutely nothing about this. It serves them right for getting into it.”

The comments come as the Government has announced it will pay for home safety inspections for homes where foil insulation has been installed, after numerous safety complaints.

The Opposition has said the Government is responsible for the scheme that has seen four installers lose their lives and $50 million spent or rebates for foil insulation.

Garrett yesterday ordered about 37,000 audits of homes with foil insulation installed due to fears that several underqualified installation companies have caused the roofs to become dangerously susceptible to electrical fires.

The Government will pay for electricians to inspect homes with foil insulation, with the total cost to reach about $1.4 million. If any flaws are found, the Government will attempt to work with insulation providers to fix the problems.

Garrett has announced foil insulation will now be banned under the scheme.

The latest problems come after a year of outcry from the the insulation industry and the Opposition regarding the insulation scheme. Industry insiders and experts have claimed the market has been flooded with cowboys rorting the system, with the Government even promising to name-and-shame unscrupulous providers.

But Gerster says the activities of these providers are causing other companies, such as Golden Fleece, to be inundated with calls from paranoid buyers.

“We have people calling us saying they’ve had insulation put it in and they don’t trust the people installing it. Of course, I say it’s got nothing to do with me, but I still have them calling me and I have to divert them to the Government.”

But despite the problems with the scheme, Gerster says his business will suffer if the $1200 rebates, which have been scaled back from $1600, are scrapped altogether.

“If it goes it will bugger the industry for a short time, probably for about three months because there will be heaps of stock everywhere and then people will reduce prices.

“We just want to go back to doing work with our builders and giving services to builders for new homes, and that sort of thing. This whole thing is a nightmare.”

Meanwhile, opposition leader Tony Abbott has jumped on the chance to attack Garrett over the scheme, noting the National Electrical and Communications Association even contacted him about electrical dangers.

“We have an Environment Minister who has been utterly incompetent in the administration of his portfolio. We’ve got spending blowouts in just about every program that he runs. We’ve even had four people die as a result of incompetent work done under his program.

“Given that the peak industry body representing electrical and communications contractors took the extraordinary step of alerting him in writing about the fire and electrical dangers surrounding the government’s home insulation program, why did it take seven weeks for one of their departmental officials to bother replying?”

The problems come as the Government is also battling controversy over its “Green Loans” program, which offers interest-free loans for homeowners wanting to make green improvements based on recommendations from official assessments.

However, accredited assessors have said these assessments cannot be booked due to a backlog of companies attempting to contact the Government department running the scheme. While last year it was expected it would take four years to complete the 350,000 assessments, it is now suspected these will be completed by April.

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A dodgy bus company has a crash due negligence, or a small airline has a crash do we ask the Minister for Transport to resign?

What about the Defence Minister when there is a military mishap?

A load of wank from Abbott and fuelled by a dopey media for the gullible masses.

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also have ot ask how amny installations where conducted per year before the scheme and per month afterwards? if the spin i hear dis true there was no safety standards re install procedures untill this scheme was rolled out.

this is how it works.

top down policies and procedures are assigned for underlings to follow,

liability goes down the chain till either somone doesnt follow the procedures, or somone hadnt installed a policy and pocedure.

polies are at the top, garrets ass is covered.

its all about covering your ass.

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also have ot ask how amny installations where conducted per year before the scheme and per month afterwards? if the spin i hear dis true there was no safety standards re install procedures untill this scheme was rolled out.

Right on. Its now front page waffle. The economy is f*cked (in real terms where is the growth? We have a sea of unemployed school leavers), the Current Account blowing out, Rudd's promises of heathcare reform and big infrastructure builds are just waffle...and we carry on about this bullsh*t.

How many die on the highway between Melbourne and Cairns where it goes single lane, divided line?

Why does it it take a Sydneysider 30mins to cross 10km, where it takes a Tokyo citizen 15?

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Mark O'Connor, 30, walked away from the staff meeting unsure how he would replace his income, which paid a $3000-a-month mortgage and supported his wife, who is expecting a baby in three weeks, and their young daughter.

"I have gone from a good income to zero on half a day's notice," Mr O'Connor said.

Thats a $450,000 loan by rough calcs.

(@6.50% $1000/m is 150,000 in loan)

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