SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Kevin Rudd is really misrepresenting the conclusions from Minter Ellison in that regard. There are three separate instances in the Minter Ellison Risk Register, the final copy that Minter Ellison provided to the Government, where it says that the risk is not tolerable and it recommended a delayed scheme and other actions be taken to change that. Now the Government can argue as to whether they made those actions and whether those actions were satisfactory, but certainly Kevin Rudd is putting words in the mouth of Minter Ellison to suggest that the report provided by them to Peter Garrett’s Department of Environment said that risks were all tolerable because they certainly did not at that stage and indeed they highlighted a range of potential consequences, hundreds of millions of dollars of potential costs to Government, even bigger costs that we’re now seeing realised to the economy and the insulation industry and of course the tragedies that have come about through loss of life. So this Government should have accepted the advice of Minter Ellison to slow down, to get the program right, to take a little longer for a start date, to accept the three month delay that was suggested and actually put in place far more adequate training measures, far more adequate scrutiny of all installers and done the many, many things that they’re now talking about doing after the horse has so sadly bolted.
JOHN BARRON: The Prime Minister has said that he is disappointed in himself over his handling of the insulation scheme. That’s pretty remarkable. We don’t hear those sorts of words too often from Australian Prime Minsters. In your view is it enough?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well it’s not enough for the Prime Minister to simply say that he accepts responsibility and then for there to be no consequence from that responsibility. In the end responsibility is not a consequence-free zone. These Minter Ellison reports, we found out this morning in the Senate inquiry, were not only provided to the Department of Environment, they were also provided to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet through the Office of the Coordinator General. Yet the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister who is responsible for workplace safety, Minister Arbib who was responsible for the stimulus package and worked with the Coordinator General’s office… none of them asked for briefings from their department after the first death of an installer, nor the second death of an installer, nor the third death of an installer – it wasn’t until the fourth death in February of this year that any of them thought they might need to look into whether this program was operating effectively.