Australia ditches homes insulation programme amid safety concerns

The Australian Government has ditched plans to relaunch its home insulation programme (HIP), halted earlier this year amid widespread concerns over safety, quality and fraud.

The move follows the release of a review of the scheme by Allan Hawke expressing “grave concerns about the wisdom of proceeding with any further government supported home insulation programme”.

The HIP was announced in February 2009 as part of the Government’s $42 billion building and jobs plan designed to respond to the economic crisis and growing unemployment.

The idea was to generate economic stimulus and create low skilled jobs, as well as improve the energy efficiency of 2.7 million homes, through a programme of insulation installation.

By the time the programme was halted in February this year, over one million – particularly low income – homes had been insulated.

But higher than expected demand on the scheme led to poor quality workmanship and the importing of potential substandard insulation materials from abroad, which have been associated with over 100 house fires and four deaths.

Greg Combet, Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, says the Government’s first priority will now be safety and will undertake inspections of a minimum of 150,000 homes with insulation installed under the HIP. A further 50,000 homes will have to the option to remove the installed foil insulation or add in safety measures.

Funds leftover in the HIP budget will also be directed towards helping ‘reputable’ members of the insulation industry cope with the immediate cessation of the programme.

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23 April 2010