Damning reports released today into the failed $300 million Green Loans affair confirm that the Rudd-Gillard Government can’t be trusted to run a major environmental program.
It’s a trifecta of trouble – coming after the debacles of the Home Insulation Program and repeated scrapping and suspension of solar programs.
The one thing in common in all these programs was Peter Garrett.  Surely now Garrett must get the Gillard Guillotine.
On the very day when the Prime Minister was finalising her new climate change policy, we get another reminder of the appalling mismanagement of environmental programs by this Government.
Today’s overdue release of independent reports into the Rudd/Gillard Government’s failed Green Loans program demonstrates a litany of more failings of administration akin to those of the disastrous Home Insulation Program*.
Of key concern is that the Faulkner inquiry report identifies 149 breaches or issues with Government procurement and contracting guidelines and legislation.
Still unreleased, however, is a further audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, despite Energy Efficiency Minister Penny Wong telling the Senate in March that this audit into the Green Loans program was “due to conclude shortly.”
The Government has tried to mask today’s damning reports by announcing a transition from what remains of Green Loans to the new Green Start program.  But that has the look of trying to revive the disastrous insulation program.  That would mean the batts are back.
All the Government has announced today are two vague components to a re-badged program, resembling the same type of ill considered policies lacking in detail that led in the first place both to this debacle and the Home Insulation Program disaster.
*See key findings below
Failings highlighted by the Faulkner report include:
·         Repeated and systemic breaches of … the Financial Management Act 1997 and the Financial Management Regulations 2004 … and non-compliance with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines
·         Inconsistent treatment of tenderers, unaddressed conflicts of interest and lack of documentation
·         Poor contract management and lack of commercial terms in contracts
·         Significant cost escalations and weak budget control
·         Delay in implementing a Program audit process … and the absence of a quality assurance program
·         Staff were broadly aware of problems with the administration of the Program … inadequate and/or ineffective efforts to follow through when matters were raised.
Failings highlighted by the Resolution Consulting report include:
·         Lack of control over the number of assessors, poor financial controls for the program which allowed regulatory breaches, poor management controls, faulty program design and inadequate procurement controls
·         Assessors … being paid 33% more than originally budgeted … for each home sustainability assessment
·         It is quite likely that the eGateway will not be completely effective until after the program is complete
·         It … does not appear that the budget factored in possible interest rate rises for the Green Loans subsidy.
·         Audit processes are not yet in place and there is a real risk that the budget issues will mean that audits are unable to be made.
·         Their [Green Loans Section] focus was on meeting Government expectations for the timeliness of the program delivery rather than running the program effectively and in accordance with Departmental requirements.
·         Management controls were insufficient for a program that was unnecessarily complex and over engineered.
·         There is no clear exit strategy for the Green Loans program.
·         The design of the program did not support effective implementation and ongoing management.