In October 2009, when the Liberal Party used its numbers in the Senate to set up a Senate committee inquiry into the Home Improvement Program, 40,000 household were at risk from the faulty installation of insulating materials. They then sat on the issue for almost 4 months and only made the attention gathering call for the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, to face Industrial Manslaughter charges just 2 weeks before the first sitting of the Senate committee in Melbourne. By then 80,000 households were at risk!
Even then, their hand may have been forced by a concerned citizen, Robin Champion, who blew the whistle on the shonky practices to Channel 7’s Today-tonight current affairs program. If Channel 7 had not broadcast the segment dealing with sub-standard insulation and the blatant fraud involved in the Home Insulation Program, the Liberal Party would probably have kept silent until the token sitting of the Senate committee in Melbourne on 17th February 2010.
The entire role of the Liberal Party in this issue smacks of political opportunism and tokenism. Had the Liberal Party raised public awareness of the dangers presented by the home insulation program back in October 2009, then another 40,000 households would not have been placed at risk and at least 3 lives would have been saved following the death of Matthew Fuller.
With 80,000 homes at risk across the nation the Senate inquiry public consultations involve just 2 one-day sittings, one in Melbourne and one in Canberra. All of the other capital cities miss out. The question is why. Only 33 written submissions were received by the committee before the closing date of December 18th 2009.
Clearly more sittings are needed in the other capital cities and the deadline for written submissions needs to be extended for at least another month to the end of March 2010. Without this opportunity for INFORMED public consultation, the Liberal Party’s committee of inquiry is a sham.