Friday 25th of May 2018

of course the royal commission was always going to be loaded against the "labor" government because of the terms of reference...

tony batty...

When one studies the "terms of reference" for the royal commission into the "Pink bats", one can only see it is set up for the study of failures, not that of successes. ANY BUSINESS in Australia could be submitted to the same rigmarole and come with a giant F for FAILURE... In fact the HIP was very successful despite a few set backs which HAPPEN in any industry. ON THIS LEVEL, the HIP was far more successful than most private enterprises. "This" royal commission was a waste of time and money.

The Home Insulation Programme provided insulation for more than one million homes and had a failure rate of about 400 homes and four death. Compared to the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Snowy Scheme, this is a resounding success.  The failures only happen not so much because of government "oversight" but because of "new" shonky operators who did not pay attention to the process and possible pitfalls of insulation but only to profit from it. As well, there were no regulation in this industry to speak of beforehand because Howard did not like red tape on "private" enterprises and made sure there were not any...

In the end, the media and the Abbott regime will rejoice is claiming that they were right to say that the scheme was a failure, when it was a success all along. That's the way democracy and MMMM work hand in hand... Not a single mass media will dare challenge the report which was skewed from the terms of reference:


Terms of ReferenceLetters Patent

ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth:


Mr Richard Ian Hanger AM QC


WHEREAS a measure, known as the “Energy Efficient Homes Package”, was announced by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on 3 February 2009.

AND a component of that Package was the “Homeowner Insulation Program”, which was replaced on 1 July 2009 by the “Home Insulation Program” (both of which form the Program).

AND it is claimed that the deaths of Matthew Fuller, Rueben Barnes, Mitchell Sweeney and Marcus Wilson may have arisen from the implementation of the Program.

AND it is important in the public interest that claims that deaths, serious injuries, financial loss or damage to pre-existing home insulation businesses, effects on families and other matters arising from the implementation of the Program be fully explored.

NOW THEREFORE We do, by these Our Letters Patent issued in Our name by Our Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia on the advice of the Federal Executive Council and under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Royal Commissions Act 1902 and every other enabling power, appoint you to be a Commission of inquiry, and require and authorise you, to inquire into the matters that may have arisen from the development and implementation of the Program, and related matters, and in particular, without limiting the scope of your inquiry, the following matters:

  1. the processes by which the Australian Government made decisions about the establishment and implementation of the Program, and the bases of those decisions, including how workplace health and safety and other risks relating to the Program were identified, assessed and managed;
  2. whether the Australian Government was given, or sought, any advice, warnings or recommendations by or from industry representatives, regulatory authorities or other agencies of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory during the establishment and implementation of the Program, and what action the Australian Government took in response to any such advice, warnings or recommendations;
  3. whether, in establishing or implementing the Program, the Australian Government:
    1. failed to have sufficient regard to workplace health and safety or other risks relating to the Program; or
    2. failed to have sufficient regard to advice, warnings or recommendations mentioned in paragraph (b); or
    3. failed to deal adequately with the risks, advice, warnings or recommendations;
    and, if so, why sufficient regard was not had to the risks, advice, warnings or recommendations, or why they were not dealt with adequately;
  4. whether the death of:
    1. Matthew Fuller; or
    2. Rueben Barnes; or
    3. Mitchell Sweeney; or
    4. Marcus Wilson;
    could have been avoided by the appropriate identification, assessment or management, by the Australian Government, of workplace health and safety and other risks relating to the Program;
  5. whether the Australian Government should have taken action, in relation to the identification, assessment or management of workplace health and safety and other risks relating to the Program, that you consider would or may have avoided the deaths of the persons named in paragraph (d);
  6. the effects of the Program on:
    1. the families of the persons named in paragraph (d); and
    2. pre-existing home insulation businesses;
  7. whether the Australian Government should change its laws, policies, practices, processes, procedures or systems for the purpose of seeking to prevent the recurrence of any failure identified by your inquiry.
  8. AND, without limiting the scope of your inquiry or the scope of any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you may consider appropriate, We direct you to consider:

  9. all relevant matters occurring during the period:
    1. starting at the commencement of the policy development that led to the introduction of the Program; and
    2. ending at the termination of the Program; and
  10. all remedial measures undertaken by the Australian Government after the Program was terminated.
  11. AND, without limiting the scope of your inquiry or the scope of any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you may consider appropriate, We declare that you may:

  12. consider:
    1. damage to property claimed to have arisen from the implementation of the Program; and
    2. the effects on pre-existing home insulation businesses resulting from the damage; and
  13. make findings or recommendations about those matters;
  14. but you are not required by these Our Letters Patent to do so.

    AND We further declare that you are not required by these Our Letters Patent to inquire, or to continue to inquire, into a particular matter to the extent that you are satisfied that the matter has been, is being, or will be, sufficiently and appropriately dealt with by any of the following:

  15. the inquests in Queensland and New South Wales into the deaths of the persons named in paragraph (d);
  16. the findings of any court or tribunal inquiring into serious injuries, or loss or damage, claimed to have arisen from the Program;
  17. inquiries by State or Territory governments, police forces or other agencies into the deaths of the persons named in paragraph (d) or into serious injuries, or loss or damage, claimed to have arisen from the Program;
  18. the findings of the Report by the Australian National Audit Office into the Program;
  19. the findings of the Review of the Administration of the Program;
  20. any other relevant inquiry, proceeding or finding.
  21. AND We direct you to make any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you consider appropriate.

    AND We declare that you are a relevant Commission for the purposes of sections 4 and 5 of the Royal Commissions Act 1902.

    AND We declare that in these Our Letters Patent:

    pre-existing home insulation business means a business of installing insulation in domestic premises that was in existence before 3 February 2009.

    AND We:

  22. require you to begin your inquiry as soon as practicable; and
  23. require you to make your inquiry as expeditiously as possible; and
  24. Authorise you to submit to Our Governor-General any interim report that you consider appropriate; and
  25. require you to submit to Our Governor-General a report of the results of your inquiry, and your recommendations, not later than 30 June 2014.

IN WITNESS, We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent.

WITNESS Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Dated 2013


By Her Excellency’s Command




If you cannot see that this is designed to destroy success from the onset, then you have rocks in the head. Long live the republic and atheism. 

more death by desperation about the abbott regime...

This is the seventh and final part of Alan's submission (edited only slightly for format).

Naming the HIP ‘bungle’, ‘debacle’ and ‘disaster’

The Rudd Government was warned by (risk assessment consultants) Minter Ellison at the outset about possible political attacks. It was advised that ‘a variety of failures in the process, system, project deliverables etc may have significant indirect political/public confidence impact’.

It was told to expect:

‘... excessive media attention on non-compliance.'

The Government could hardly have anticipated the ferocity and the mendacity of the media campaign unleashed by its opponents from the outset.

Campaigns in Australia to denigrate, misreport and misrepresent initiatives of the Rudd/Gillard governments have all been highly successful — but none more so than the campaign against the HIP.

The campaign led by the Murdoch media appears to have had five main lines of attack.

First, to depict the scheme as an investment enterprise requiring cost savings rather than a rapid expenditure exercise, then to attack the government for high outlays.


 ‘Insulation budget facing big blowout’ ~ The Australian, 22 August 2009

‘Education funds found from savings in insulation, housing schemes’ ~, 28 August 2009

Second, to depict the inevitable negative events which the scheme had anticipated as abnormal, unexpected, unforeseen and the fault of the incompetent federal government.


‘Warning on rip-offs by dodgy pink batt installers’ ~ The Australian, 16 March 2009

‘Insulation subsidy scheme rorted’ ~ The Australian, 20 June 2009

‘Insulation batts blamed for several fires across NSW’ ~ The Daily Telegraph, 21 September 2009

‘Homeowners warned to check for shonky ceiling insulation’ ~ The Courier-Mail, 09 October 2009


As an additional insult, some formal inquiries claimed that the government had caused ‘reputational damage’ to the insulation industry — but without noting the campaigns of misrepresentation and distortion by opponents of the program. [34]

In contrast, much sound reporting was provided by the alternative online media.

Excellent reports include the analysis by Scott Steel in Crikey referred to earlier [in Part Five], Professor Tiffen’s analysis, referred to above, and these:

‘What the Auditor couldn't see’ ~ New Matilda, 25 Oct 2010, and

‘Pink batts: not a scandal, but not as good as claimed’ ~ The Conversation, 30 October 2012

These, however, were overwhelmed by the mendacious and politically-motivated attacks on the HIP in mainstream daily newspapers, radio and television.

Families and friends of the deceased – and the wider community – have been told repeatedly to believe that the national enterprise to which the young men were contributing was a ‘scandal’, a ‘disaster’ and a ‘debacle’.

According to objective analysis, however, the HIP was a remarkable success.

 It should have been the occasion of national pride and celebration – along with construction of the magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge in the 1920s (which cost 16 lives) and the Snowy River hydro-electric facility in the 1950s and 60s (which cost 121 lives).

Australia’s great mining enterprises take between five and 15 lives each year. Manufacturing in Australia costs more than 17 lives each year. General aviation takes more than 25 lives a year. Australia’s farms and forests claim more than 50 lives a year. [35]

Despite the seemingly unavoidable tragedies — all of these important initiatives are making Australia a better place.


read more:,6839

don't be fooled — australia needed insulation from the GFC...

A letter I received from Treasury contains some unpleasant home truths for Tony Abbott and his battalion of GFC deniers as they continue their austerity drive, writes Wayne Swan.

This month marks the sixth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the global economy's descent into what could have become a Great Depression Mark II - but instead became the Great Recession.

Almost alone among developed economies, Australia grew, and grew strongly relative to the rest of the world. Nor did we experience, to any significant degree, the shocks that rocked the global economy in the subsequent five years which have led to weak growth across the Western world.  

Labor's effective response to these events through fiscal and monetary stimulus has been judged by international financial organisations like the OECD and IMF as among the most effective in the world.

The view of our independent Treasury, in a letter I publically released today, was that "Rapid and large monetary and fiscal policy stimulus played a critical role in increasing effective demand and the early recovery of consumer and business confidence in Australia. Our estimates imply that growth would have been negative for three consecutive quarters absent fiscal stimulus."

But a battalion of people still remain who will say anything to discredit stimulus purely for the ideological purpose of delegitimising government action in an economic crisis.

Led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, this battalion is rounded out by the likes of Chris Berg from the IPA and journalists such as Judith Sloan and Henry Ergas.

They desperately clutch at anything they can, no matter how fanciful, in an attempt to delegitimise the concept of a government actively intervening in the economy when required to protect its people.    

Take, for example, the recent piece written by the IPA's Berg for The Drum, which argued that the primary motivation for the Government's fiscal response to the GFC was to gain political mileage. He argued that monetary policy alone would see Australia through.

If we accept the conservative narrative - a fundamentally and demonstrably false narrative that laissez faire would have seen us through the crisis - then the next economic crisis (and there is always a next economic crisis) will result in mass bankruptcies, mass unemployment and mass human misery.

Predictably, the launch of my new book The Good Fight has fired up this old conservative cheer squad.

The right-wing spear carriers eke out an existence in a 'post-truth' world simply because they can't handle the facts. A 'post-truth' world where facts and reality take a back seat to hysterical hyper partisanship.

This is especially true when it comes to attacks from my old adversary, Peter Costello, who recently bobbed his head up.

People might think comparisons with Peter Costello annoy me, but actually they are the ones I most warmly welcome. I will hold my record up against my predecessor's any day of the week. Mr Costello produced two tough budgets, and then put the scalpel away and let his prime minister open a fire hydrant of government cash.

Of course, Peter Costello could afford to relax. In cricketing terms, the pitch was flat, the sky was sunny, and the medium-pacers were just lobbing up one cherry after another.

If I had the same tax receipts as a proportion of GDP as Costello had on average over the decade before he handed over (23.6 per cent), I would have received around $200 billion in additional revenue. That's right, I inherited a surplus of $21 billion and a revenue shortfall of around $200 billion to fight the global financial crisis. Puts the $47 billion deficit in perspective, doesn't it?

Contrast the conditions I faced with those Costello faced. Costello benefited from write-up after write-up.

In fact, revenue variations contributed $334 billion to the surplus for the period from 2004-05 to the 2007 pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook, but instead of these being available for a rainy day (e.g. the GFC that was about to hit), new spending decisions by the Howard Government reduced the surplus by $314 billion.

That is, Costello effectively spent almost all of the additional revenue from the mining boom.

This brings us to the alleged "economic emergency" associated with this year's budget.

The letter from Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson mentioned above contains some unpleasant home truths for Abbott and his battalion of GFC deniers as they continue their austerity drive.

It confirms Australia and the Federal Labor Government did get the big economic calls right when successfully fighting off the global financial crisis.

While facts might be a minor inconvenience for the ideologues, what these facts meant for Australia was nearly one million extra jobs under Labor.

Wayne Swan is the author of The Good Fight, published by Allen & Unwin. He is the Federal Member for Lilley, and a former deputy prime minister and treasurer. Follow him on Twitter @SwannyQLD. View his full profile here.

political payback...

The politically motivated Hanger 'pink batts' royal commission, in its eagerness to condemn the previous Government, ignored seven vital issues in its "glaringly unfair" report, writes Alan Austin.

FORMER PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM FRASER warned that theRoyal Commission into the home insulation program (HIP) would be political ‘payback’.

Headlines following yesterday’s release of Commissioner Ian Hanger’s report have certainly been as damaging to Labor as those Tony Abbott has fomented for five years.

But, disturbingly, the report has not addressed at least seven critical issues — all with political impact.

One. To what extent did the scheme achieve its objectives? Was the HIP the reason – or part of the reason – Australia averted the recession which loomed in every developed country in 2008 and which eventuated everywhere except Australia and Poland?

Those who say it was include Australia’s Treasury, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, UNICEF consultant Bruno Martorano, Sydney University’s Professor Rodney Rodney Tiffen, Australian Trade Commission’s Tim Harcourt and Lowy Institute for International Policy director Mark Thirlwell.

None of these was called to testify, nor was any other authority on fiscal stimulus. This vital question remains unanswered.

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Anthony Abbott is a vindictive crappy politician... He should never have got there, except for the vindictive crappy lot that we are... Anthony Abbott is an opportunistic idiot... 

witch hunt...

Royal Commissions are not for political retribution and using them as such is inherently dangerous. In light of the Ashby affair, the Abbott Government should be treading more carefully, writes Darrin Barnett.

Let's be clear about this: former prime minister Julia Gillard's appearance at the Trade Union Royal Commission today is a witch hunt. Just like the most recent investigation into the failed pink batts scheme, it reeks of payback.

The point of the process is to reinstate the smear that dogged her prime ministership. It is yet another chapter in the LNP's long-running attempts to destroy her.

Gillard has been grilled for 20 years now on the dealings surrounding her relationship with former Australian Workers' Union official Bruce Wilson.

Suggestions of alleged impropriety over a so-called slush fund and purchase of a suburban property in Melbourne have been forensically examined. 

Gillard has consistently said she did not act improperly and did nothing wrong. Despite today's appearance at the Royal Commission - plus myriad press conferences, questions in Parliament, and well-resourced investigative reporting - there is still no smoking gun.

From mid-2012 onward, in my role as press secretary to Ms Gillard, our team was bombarded with reiterations of the same questions over and over.

We generally referred to answers given previously, including those at the PM's marathon press conference in August 2012. There was nothing new to report.

Gillard aptly described the haters as "misogynists and nut jobs on the internet", and you can expect this group to be desperately cashing in on their last chance for airtime and column inches on the topic in the coming days. 

Yet what is significant is that the goalposts have now been shifted significantly on what is to be investigated at the behest of the government of the day.

To give an indication of the LNP's motives for chasing Gillard, LNP frontbencher Julie Bishop told the Sunday Telegraph in February 2013 that she only agreed to pursue Gillard after the Prime Minister accused Abbott of misogyny.

"Tony had always given Gillard the benefit of the doubt, he'd always thought there was a line she would never cross," the now Foreign Minister said.

"She crossed the line that day, and as far as he was concerned, all bets were off. So it ultimately backfired on her, because I would never have raised the AWU matter had she not done that."

Meanwhile, the Royal Commission into the previous government's flawed Home Insulation Program handed down its report last week with Commissioner Ian Hangar, QC, finding the Labor government should have done more to ensure the safety of the four young men who died, as well as other inexperienced workers.

However, Opposition attorney-general Mark Dreyfus is right to point out that the $20 million spent on the Royal Commission has not significantly altered the account of the insulation scheme that the previous eight inquiries had provided.

There had already been coronial inquiries in New South Wales and Queensland into the deaths. The cause of death is known. Three of the four employers have been prosecuted and convicted.

There is a fair argument that no modern workplace deaths have been more thoroughly examined, even before the Royal Commission. So why hold one?

In addition to all this, we have further questionable overstepping of conventions with Mr Abbott personally approving a decision to make cabinet documents available to the HIP Royal Commission.

Former prime ministers Bob Hawke and Malcolm Fraser both expressed concern at the decision to hand over cabinet documents - citing a fear it would endanger the convention of cabinet confidentiality.

"Ministers should not have to look over their shoulders and wonder, how will this look when the next government publishes what I am now saying?" Mr Fraser pointed out. 

Quite simply, Royal Commissions are not for political retribution and using them as such is inherently dangerous. If for no other reason than narrow self-interest, the Abbott Government should be treading more carefully. 

With James Ashby telling 60 Minutes that Christopher Pyne knew of his sexual harassment allegations against Peter Slipper and about the staffer's proposed litigation against the speaker, it is reasonable to conclude that the process was as much political as personal.

"I don't think it's in the interests of the country or the public for there to be a constant trawling over of a two-and-a-half year old story," Pyne said. Mr Abbott says the matter is now closed.

But why wouldn't Labor or another party not go to the election seeking a Royal Commission into the Ashby affair? 

Why not define terms of reference so that Abbott, Pyne, Mal Brough, and Wyatt Roy, are all put on the stand?

What other text messages are out there? Were there emails? Are there others who would have something to say under oath?

And what about Operation Sovereign borders? At least two people have died, and the entire exercise is shrouded in secrecy. Surely a Royal Commission there would be imminently defendable given recent precedent. 

But for any Opposition with the trigger finger itching, there is also an instructive inquiry underway which shows that things can get out of control.

NSW's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigation, set up by an incoming LNP government, has forced no fewer than nine Government MPs to move to the cross benches, while ending the ministerial careers of NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Federal Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos.

When you call for an inquiry you have to be careful what you wish for.

Darrin Barnett is a former Canberra Press Gallery journalist and press secretary to prime minister Julia Gillard. He is now a fellow of the McKell Institute. View his full profile here.

shouldn’t be used for narrow targeted political purposes...


John Howard has questioned the Coalition’s decision to launch two royal commissions in its first year in government, saying that the process shouldn’t be used for “narrow targeted political purposes”.

A royal commission into the home insulation scheme has already concluded, while another royal commission, into unions, is underway.

Howard told the Australian: “I’m uneasy about the idea of having royal commissions or inquiries into essentially a political decision on which the public has already delivered a verdict.

“I don’t think you should ever begin to go down the American path of using the law for narrow targeted political purposes. I think the special prosecutions in the US are appalling.”

Four young men died during work provided by the home insulation scheme in 2009 and 2010. The previous Labor government introduced the scheme as a way to stimulate the economy during the global financial crisis.

The home insulation royal commission cost about $25m and followed several previous coronial and Senate inquiries into the matter. The commission questioned former prime minister Kevin Rudd about the scheme’s roll-out, with the subsequent report finding that the program was seriously flawed.

“I am uneasy about those approaches,” Howard said. “I have to say I’m not happy about that but that’s a decision the government makes and, after all, the former government was tipped out on the strength of, among other things, the failure of the home insulation scheme. There has been coronial investigations.”

Howard is the latest former prime minister to question how the Coalition is handling the royal commission process. Earlier this year, Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke expressed concern that the government would break a long-standing convention of cabinet confidentiality by handing certain documents over to the home insulation royal commission.


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We all know that Abbott is a vindictive dick (or arsehole, depending on your viewpoint) who hates anyone who gave him a bit of political stick...


turdy abbott is an idiot...

The former prime minister Kevin Rudd is suing the ABC over a report that claimed he was warned of “critical risks” of his government’s home insulation program before the deaths of four young installers in 2010.

The ABC reported on Wednesday that Rudd and the senior Labor MPs Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and Lindsay Tanner were warned in a report to cabinet in 2009 that their national rollout of subsidised home insulation – part of an economic stimulus package – faced “critical risks”. The report emphasised it was unclear if “critical risks” referred to safety concerns.


Read more:



And so should Rudd sue the ABC... Safety concerns of the program would have been no more than in the general building industry. How many workers die per year on building sites in Australia?... around 150... How many died from the insulation work? four. And these were due from a couple of shonky employers who were contracted by the public service to do the job... Nothing to do with Rudd. Read from top...