Failed insulation scheme still hitting home owners


By Lyndal Curtis and Naomi Woodley

The Federal Government is still being dogged by problems with its scrapped home insulation program.

Documents show 20,000 payment claims worth about $25 million from installers are being reviewed.

So far nearly 600 installation companies have been identified as having to return money to the Government.

About half have voluntarily given back nearly $500,000 and home owners are still being personally affected.

Melbourne man Peter Jordan says he had insulation installed in his home 13 months ago, but problems were only found during an inspection this week.

“The inspectors went up into the roof, came back and said ‘that’s a complete failure and we’ll have to be lodging a report because there is a fire risk and as soon as we lodge this report by email then there’ll be red flags going up all over the place and some people will be in touch with you straight away to arrange for it to be rectified’,” he said.

“The inspectors said that somebody would ring us within a couple of hours because of the risk and in the meantime we shouldn’t use any down lights or exhaust fans.”

Mr Jordan says he waited until the following day, but heard nothing in response.

He made several phone calls in a bid to rectify the problem, but was repeatedly given the run-around.

At one point, he was advised the issue could take up to 10 weeks to resolve.

Mr Jordan says he has since been told the insulation is not as high risk as the inspectors first indicated.

He was also told the original inspectors should have rectified the problem there and then.

“Their problem was apparently that the materials that they should have had, they didn’t have and that’s why they didn’t fix it there and then,” he said.

But Mr Jordan says he is still in the dark about why his home was singled out for one of the relatively small number of inspections.

“If there’s something particular about our original installer or about our particular installation as to why they should pick us then, of course, we would like to know,” he said.

“If it’s just a complete number out of a hat, then we’re just concerned about all the other people who actually won’t be picked who may have bigger problems than we have.”

Systemic flaws

The Opposition’s environment spokesman, Greg Hunt, says the Government is responsible for the inherent flaws in the scheme’s design.

He says no information has been provided on how many home inspections are being conducted and the rate of problems being found.

“These are systemic flaws from a government that loves to make announcements but doesn’t consider the deep human consequences,” he said.

“We now know that there are well over 100,000 roofs that have been inspected and for fear of causing panic because of the rate of failure, the Government is refusing to release the data.

“That data should be released so the public can make genuine decisions about their own safety.”

But the parliamentary secretary for energy efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, has defended the Government’s decision to withhold details of its insulation scheme.

He says any figures on the nature of inspections being carried out would be misleading.

“It’s been targeted at households most at risk, which is of course reflective of safety being the Government’s top priority,” he said.

“Information about exactly what’s occurred with those inspections and rectifications wouldn’t be representative and it wouldn’t serve the public at all.”