Australian taxpayers have been informed that the late Home Insulation Program has cost them an estimated $2.156 billion in installation and clean up over four years.
Final costs and written off bad debts associated with the disastrous program have been detailed by Climate Change departmental officials at Senate Estimates under questioning from Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Simon Birmingham.
What would become Labor’s ‘Pink Batts’ disaster was announced in February 2009 but abandoned barely 12 months later and has been linked to at least four deaths and more than 200 house fires.
The Home Insulation Program itself has left behind 2494 bad debts totalling $34.5 million, while the subsequent Insulation Industry Assistance Package – designed to help legitimate businesses recover from the Government’s disastrous intervention – has left 58 bad debts totalling $5.45 million.
In contrast, just $1.86 million has been recovered despite money having been owed in some instances for as long as 17 months.
Of those 2552 remaining debts, 274 worth $5.31 million have been referred for recovery to debt collectors Dun & Bradstreet, who stand to receive up to $114,800 themselves for each debt they successfully collect.
Dun & Bradstreet’s website assures taxpayers and others that their “experienced team is committed to maximising your collections whilst ensuring that your customer relationships are maintained.”
41 cases of suspected and/or alleged fraud remain under investigation.
“Labor’s Home Insulation Program was a complete disaster but years later Australian taxpayers effectively continue to pay a high price in unrecovered debts,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“This debacle is the epitome of Labor waste, best exemplified by the engagement of debt collectors to help taxpayers recoup a mere fraction of the wasted funds spent.
“The Coalition regrets the pain this program inflicted on Australians and wishes the debt collectors every success in returning any small sums they can to taxpayers from this disastrous episode.”