A Spaghetti Western

A Spaghetti Western

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against its government.

Edward Abbey 1

imageDuring the 1960s and 1970s at least 1,500 properties throughout Canberra and its environs were insulated with friable loose fill amosite asbestos via a private contractor, colloquially referred to as Mr. Fluffy. Despite the fairy tale connotations it generated numerous undesirable consequences and significant potential public health risks. Many of these issues remain unresolved and in 2003 the manufacture and use of asbestos throughout Australia was banned. Following the global financial crisis in 2008 the federal government embarked on a $42 billion Keynesian initiative via the Nation Building and Jobs Plan to stimulate the economy. This involved an energy efficient homes package, which allocated almost $2.7 billion for the insulation of roof cavities in Australian households. Studies estimated the cost for insulating an average home was approximately $1350 and a $500 rebate would achieve only a 28% uptake over three years. However, the government encouraged widespread and prompt participation in the scheme and substantial reimbursements were offered to householders, occupiers and installers. Registration and refunds were completed online and the program was designed to achieve maximum impact and align with economic stimulus and employment objectives. It could be facetiously described as anti-mimesis with life imitating art. 212

The good, the bad and the ugly

The home insulation or pink batts program was beset with controversy from its inception and the devastating consequences soon emerged, which included deaths of four young workers in separate incidents. It may also have inadvertently removed the scab from the festering Mr. Fluffy loose fill asbestos insulation sore and reinforced that work health and safety is indeed a wicked problem. The program was administered by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and aimed to retrofit insulation into almost two million homes in just over two years. It initially preferred a sensible, cautious and practicable five-year schedule via a regional brokerage model using experienced enterprises to mitigate the inherent risks. This was subsequently slashed to two years and unwarily approved by the Strategic Priorities and Budget Committee. The original model was abandoned in favour of a direct delivery prototype advocated by the Office of the Coordinator – General. 1318

This laissez faire approach was concocted in a futile attempt to fulfil unrealistic ultimatums with an inflexible target date. It was demand driven with reduced entry barriers and provided householders with an extensive choice of registered installers. Before the program began almost 200 businesses were retrofitting insulation into 70,000 Australian homes each year. The program established extremely ambitious targets, which included a fifteen-fold increase in insulation activities. This required cramming the equivalent of a year’s work into each month and sustaining the workload for two and a half years. 1921

A key objective of the home insulation program was to create work for those at risk of losing their jobs following the global financial crisis, especially amongst the building and construction sector. The federal government was determined to implement the program with minimal delays via a unilateral laissez faire policy designed to remove any impediments, reduce red tape and expedite the process. Its intent was made abundantly clear by one senior government official….Don’t do things in a government slow way. Let’s let the market do its work……..let the market rip. This became evident by October 2009 with a dramatic increase in the number of registered installers. It escalated to over 10,000 businesses with an estimated workforce exceeding 12,000 employees. The scheme generated a $2.7 billion frenzy of unsupervised high risk activities using many vulnerable and inexperienced adolescents. At its peak, the insulations reached almost 200,000 houses in one month. It was an accident waiting to happen and reminiscent of a spaghetti western. The significant financial inducements in an unregulated environment would inevitably attract a reasonable proportion of unscrupulous untermenschen delivering substandard installations. This would also increase the risk of fraud or embezzlement………..Money doesn’t talk it swears. 2231

This exponential growth required a government department with the competency, capacity and capability to deliver a program that demanded a commensurate increase in the use of skilled labour. It was exacerbated by a perceived obligation to expedite its design and implementation and cut any red tape. This circumvented or disregarded consultation mechanisms and many significant work health and safety risks were addressed unilaterally, treated disdainfully or disregarded. The need for meticulous planning on an unprecedented scale was sacrificed at the expense of speed with inevitable undesirable and ugly consequences….Dying ain’t much of a way to make a living. 3235

A fistful of dollars

Evidence from several witnesses suggest this sector and the program was an ideal target for the economic stimulus. It was effectively unregulated and entry requirements were merely administrative. South Australia was the only state with any meaningful restrictions, which included a licensing regime. Crepuscular enterprises with limited experience could enter the industry like furtive hyenas. It enabled many ruthless vagabonds to abandon unlimited cohorts of unskilled vulnerable employees who merely required a pulse and a construction industry induction white card and were told to be careful. 3639

The accreditation course for a registered installer was effectively single loop training or rote learning and almost as superficial as the white card induction. It was a symbolic process and almost as effective as a chastity training course accredited by Barnaby Joyce. Within several days registered installers were subcontracting an unrestricted number of home insulation activities, which created a lucrative telemarketing scam. One registered company recouped $2.64 million at a rate of $40,000 each working day and a predictable orgy of profiteering evolved. It was an inevitable outcome of unilateral laissez faire tactics and many other interrelated, undesirable and devastating consequences emerged. The industry attracted its share of chthonic racketeers with impeccable credentials that rivalled qualifications from the prestigious Melbourne Business School. One director, unrelated to Conrad Black, Rodney Adler, Ray Williams or the late Alan Bond, accessed taxpayer funds over ten months despite an extensive criminal record. This included a prolonged stretch at Her Majesty’s pleasure back in 2000 for conspiracy to murder, false imprisonment and several other violent crimes. 4054

Another executive officer with an enlisted company was deregistered after supervised installers placed insulation over roof cavity downlights and the house caught fire. This entrepreneurial pyromaniac could replace Gary Glitter at Murray Goulburn, become a director with the ailing Retail Food Group or run the besmirched 7-Eleven empire. A 2002 arson conviction after torching a kebab store demonstrates superior leadership attributes. The entire home insulation debacle reinforces a reality that should always be present in policy making. It must account for human nature and understand that individual actions occur in an imperfect world. Moreover, the words from Sampson Brass to Dick Swiveller in the Old Curiosity Shop reverberate…..If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers. 5559

For a few dollars more

The federal government eventually established a royal commission, which inquired into matters emerging from the debacle. This followed four fatalities in separate incidents and many other significant issues that were allegedly attributed to inherent failures with the design, implementation and management of the program. The inquiry which lasted over six months between December 2013 and June 2014 identified seven significant failings with the design and delivery of the scheme. 6063

There was an inevitable and predictable dichotomy between two key objectives of the program. This involved stimulating the economy which required impetus and speed whilst insulating over two million homes demanded meticulous planning. The project favoured the former and sacrificed the latter, which was exacerbated by an unrealistic and inflexible target date that was redolent of the serving government. The program was allocated to an administrative department without the capacity, capability, and competency to design and deliver a project of such magnitude. It was aggravated by an extraordinary unilateral decision to change its delivery mechanism from a regional brokerage model to a laissez faire market rebate prototype. This disregarded many inherent risks in a malevolent attempt to cut red tape and circumvent legislative requirements. 6471

Until very late in the scheme, the federal government failed to identify and control the associated risks pertaining to the program. This resulted in several fatalities and significant injuries to installers and substantial asset damage. The government placed an inordinate reliance on inadequate advice, inept assistance and unsatisfactory project management recommendations from inexperienced external advisors. The project team failed to identify the hazards and associated risks covering installation and securing of reflective foil laminate sheeting via metal staples. This was a critical oversight, especially following similar fatalities in New Zealand. Another crucial and autarchic decision involved moderation of training and competency standards. The stringent requirements were replaced with a vague concept of superficial supervision. It allowed numerous vagabonds to relinquish responsibility via a cursory warning to be careful. The scheme was initially implemented without an effective audit and compliance regime to monitor performance of registered installers, subcontractors and their legions of unskilled and vulnerable labourers. 7279

After discarding the regional brokerage model in favour of a market demand driven prototype, the establishment of an effective audit and compliance regime became even more critical. This was acknowledged by the federal government before 1st July 2009 with promises to implement a rolling audit program. A representative sample of households would be inspected to ensure compliant insulation and solar hot water systems were correctly installed. It was initially proposed to monitor only 2% of homes although the insulation industry preferred a much higher proportion. If this was unrealistic or impractical the industry recommended references to such a low prescriptive target be removed from the program to discourage unscrupulous or rogue installers manipulating the scheme. 8082

Irrespective of the proposed audit and inspection targets it was quite evident that when the delivery phase of the program arrived only a basic monitoring program existed. Indeed between July and October 2009, installations were proceeding at a phenomenal rate and auditing arrangements were at best rudimentary with an inordinate emphasis on fraud, which sacrificed any safety or quality concerns. The audit regime was effectively a desktop process with very few site visits involving physical inspections, roof access or discussions with installers and their employees. During this peak period approximately 500 roof inspections were completed although several hundred thousand installations occurred. 8385

In October 2009 a more structured and formal auditing regime was established using independent services of PricewaterhouseCoopers although a significant emphasis on fraud remained. This suited the federal government with its blind faith that occupational, health and safety was beyond their jurisdiction and the sole responsibility of state and territory statutory authorities. An ineffective audit and compliance regime, especially during the peak installation period was a critical defect in the home insulation program. Any government program involving expenditure of enormous amounts of taxpayer funds must be accompanied by a robust and rigorous auditing regime to reduce the risk of fraud and embezzlement. It must ensure quality assurance specification criteria are satisfied. Activities such as working at height and exposure to low voltage electrical risks must be conducted in accordance with legislative requirements, codes of practice and relevant Australian Standards. This cannot be confirmed via a rudimentary and superficial desktop audit. Duty of care is a fundamental tenet of health and safety legislation. It includes designers, cannot be delegated and binds the Crown. 8693

The federal government placed an inordinate amount of faith in state and territory regulatory authorities to monitor and enforce compliance with a program of such enormous magnitude. Despite creating a market that encouraged widespread exploitation of vulnerable unskilled adolescents it treated the preventive and consultative risk management protocols enshrined in jurisdictional safety legislation as an impediment. State and territory statutory agencies were rarely involved in the program development but were expected to monitor compliance and respond to incidents without any additional resources or federal assistance. 9495

Most failures in public administration are usually multifactorial and are rarely attributed to a single error or mistake. The entire home insulation program was a cataclysm of bungling ineptitude. It was an accident waiting to happen and only a matter of time before the tragic events unfolded. This says much about the government of the day with its sociopathic leadership, megalomania, narcissism and programmatic specificity. 9699

The beguiled

Risk theory is underpinned by the concept of uncertainty and…..If something is possible it is only a matter of time before it happens. This aphorism, which is colloquially referred to as Murphy’s Law was most relevant to the home insulation program. The impact was quite sudden with devastating consequences and between October 2009 and February 2010 it claimed the lives of four young adults in separate incidents. 100103

On the 14th October 2009 Matthew Fuller, an employee with QHI Installations, was electrocuted whilst laying and securing reflective foil laminate sheeting in the roof cavity of a residential property at Meadowbrook, near Brisbane. During the activity the victim was accompanied and assisted by his girlfriend when a metal staple used to secure the material penetrated an energised hot water system electrical cable. The victim collapsed and in an instinctive attempt to provide assistance his girlfriend received an electric shock. She was rendered temporarily unconscious and became entangled in the insulation foil. Ambulance officers arrived and transported the victim and his injured girlfriend to a nearby hospital. Despite many attempts at resuscitation Matthew Fuller failed to regain consciousness and died. His girlfriend was subsequently transferred to Royal Brisbane Hospital with full thickness electrical burns to her lower left leg. The young lady has not worked since the incident, which left her permanently disfigured and psychologically shattered. 104109

An investigation from state statutory authorities confirmed there was an inordinate reliance on ineffective lower order administrative controls, which included superficial training and perfunctory supervision. The power supply to the premises had not been isolated and securing the electrically conductive insulation foil with metal staples significantly increased the risk of electrocution. 110113

The parent company Vision and Network Australia operated a netherworld telemarketing scheme selling phone deals, energy plans and pay television contracts. It also subcontracted home insulation work to QHI Installations, which was eventually prosecuted for breaching electrical safety legislation and received a $100,000 fine with $6,000 costs. The company manager, Christopher John Mackay was also charged with failing to ensure compliance with its statutory obligations and was released on a two-year good behaviour bond with a $2,000 surety. Similar charges against his son, Christopher William Mackay, the company director were dropped. 114117

Up until 14th January 2010, Vision and Network Australia completed 1521 installations and claimed almost $2 million from the scheme. The company was pursued by the federal government under debt recovery proceedings for breaching terms and conditions pursuant to the home insulation program. This extended to almost 500 inapposite claims amounting to $580,000 but the company went into liquidation and no criminal charges were ever laid against the organisation. The whereabouts of its enigmatic director and flamboyant racing identity Jude Kirk remain unknown whilst his elegant abode at Yeerongpilly is currently leased to tenants who have not seen or heard from him in many months. 118124

A little over a month later on 18th November 2009, Reuben Barnes collapsed in the roof cavity of a residential property near Stanwell in Queensland. The victim and a colleague were installing fibreglass insulation batts using a long metal pole and wooden stick. On nearing completion of the installation Reuben received a severe electric shock, which left him poleaxed and unresponsive. A colleague confirmed Reuben was not holding the long metal pole when he was electrocuted. Emergency services were raised and mains power supply to the premises was isolated. Two colleagues retrieved Reuben from the roof cavity and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Paramedics arrived at the property but Reuben failed to respond to further intensive treatment and died at the scene. 125127

A statutory investigation confirmed a screw securing plasterboard to metal ceiling battens had penetrated a sheathed electrical cable. This may have occurred during initial construction of the property and the batten became a live conductor. It remains uncertain whether Reuben contacted the batten with the metal pole although a colleague emphatically denied this happened. However, the victim may have stepped on the batten and simultaneously touched the roof and was subsequently electrocuted. The activity occurred without isolating the mains power supply and using a metal pole increased the risk of electrocution. The work team was working at height without any fall prevention or protection equipment and there were no documented procedures covering the activity. 128133

Reuben’s employer, Arrow Property Maintenance was a registered installer under the scheme and voluntarily ceased insulation activities immediately following the fatality. It was deregistered from the program in December 2009. The company received a $135,000 fine at Rockhampton Industrial Magistrates Court for breaching electrical and work health and safety legislation. It submitted claims for 78 installations and received approximately $110,000 in funds from the scheme. The organisation eventually folded and the fine remains unpaid. In 2016 the company director, Chris Jackson, was convicted of perjury following the coronial inquiry and received a lengthy jail sentence with provisions for parole after serving three months. 134138

On 21st November 2009 Marcus Wilson, was replenishing cellulose fibre insulation at a residential property at St Clair in Sydney’s outer western suburbs. It was strenuous activity and involved lugging numerous bags of insulating material, each weighing almost 20kg, up an access ladder to the roof cavity. The work started around noon and the ambient temperature at nearby Penrith exceeded 400 C. Marcus took several breaks during the task and was provided with soft drink by the property owner. On completing the installation Marcus performed some housekeeping duties although he appeared rather disoriented. A colleague suggested he wash his hands to clean a minor abrasion and have a rest in the air conditioned truck. On returning to the vehicle the colleague was unable to locate Marcus and began searching for him in the immediate environs. Marcus was found lying on the ground nearby surrounded by several people providing assistance. Witnesses confirmed he was running from the job site before he collapsed. An ambulance arrived and the casualty was transported to Nepean hospital. 139142

The victim failed to respond to intensive medical treatment and was pronounced dead the following evening. The excessive temperatures, insufficient fluid intake and physical exertion generated heat stress and Marcus died from complications arising from hyperthermia, which included total organ failure, muscle melt down and coagulopathy. There were many contributory factors but the primary cause was prolonged strenuous activity under extreme temperatures. 143145

The registered installer was Pride Buildings but they were not the victim’s employer. Marcus performed the activity on behalf an employee, Calum McLean who was sick and agreed to pay Marcus for the work. The organisation was unaware of this contingent arrangement. A coronial inquest concluded the company director demanded high expectations and insisted the work be performed irrespective of circumstances or prevailing conditions. There were no company guidelines covering work in extreme temperatures although the director indicated it would be hot that day and they should finish early. Employees were required to pay for insulation training courses, which were considered a superficial impediment and no risk assessments or instructions were documented covering installation activities. The labourers employed by Pride Buildings were mostly casual unskilled workers. Marcus was a determined teenager who had completed preliminary vocational training covering insulation work. However, he had extremely limited experience in an occupational environment and was unaccustomed to the prevailing climatic conditions and received no training or induction from the organisation. Following the incident Pride Buildings was deregistered from the scheme and has since ceased working in the insulation sector. Statutory authorities did not charge the organisation or any individuals with any offences relating to breaches of health and safety legislation. 146152

On the 4th February 2010, Mitchell Sweeney collapsed inside the roof cavity of a property on the Atherton tablelands in far north Queensland. The victim was working with two colleagues and installing metal based foil insulation on behalf of Titan Insulations, a registered installer, with scheme. The installation took approximately 30 minutes and no risk assessment was documented for the task. On completing the work and leaving the roof access hatch one of the installers heard a loud thump and believed Mitchell had slipped and fell. There was no response from the victim and another colleague received minor electric shocks as he attempted to provide assistance. 153155

The mains power supply was isolated and emergency services were notified. The victim was retrieved from the roof cavity by his colleagues and they began cardiopulmonary resuscitation with assistance from the home owner. Ambulance and police officers arrived but the victim failed to regain consciousness and died at the scene. An autopsy confirmed Mitchell Sweeney was electrocuted. A statutory investigation revealed reflective foil laminate insulation was secured using metal staples, which penetrated a lighting cable in the roof cavity. Titan Insulations was prosecuted for breaches of electrical safety legislation and received a $100,000 fine. Titan Insulations was deregistered from the program on 4th February 2010 but registration resumed the following week. The organisation lodged over 500 claims between 9th October 2009 and 4th February 2010 amounting to $663,000. Attempts were made by the federal government to recoup $213,000, from the company, which was received for 164 installations that were subsequently deemed noncompliant. It also withheld payment of $12,000 covering more recent insulation work. The Gold Coast based business has since ceased trading although the victim’s family has initiated civil proceedings. 156160

On the 6th October 20009 a home owner suffered a serious electric shock following installation of reflective foil laminate insulation at his Windaroo property in the Gold Coast hinterland. Colin Brierley entered the roof cavity to inspect the insulation and received a massive jolt that left him under intensive care in an induced coma at a Brisbane hospital. Further investigations confirm metal staples were used to secure the reflective foil and an electrical cable was penetrated. Recovery from the ordeal was extremely painful and several adverse symptoms prevail. The victim has since initiated civil action against the federal government under the tort of negligence. 161164

The impact on families is incalculable and any attempt to quantify the cost merely treats humans as collateral damage and a decadent trajectory is inevitable. Despite the inquiries and prosecutions it never achieves closure and cannot reincarnate the victims. The memories always rekindle, especially at Christmas time and on birthdays or anniversaries. The solution is prevention via better design and meaningful consultation with respect and humility for diverging opinions. An adversarial legal system merely fans the flames on the carousel of culpability and the theatre of law as very little to do with the discovery of truth or realisation of justice. It is a retrospective judgement of convenience and the only parole for the bereaved is death or dementia. 165167

In addition to the fatalities and life threatening injuries, the program was beset by many other undesirable outcomes, which included asset damage from fires triggered by improper installations and widespread fraud. It also involved frequent exploitation of householders and a vulnerable and unskilled labour force by the many venal vagabonds attracted to an impulsive and injudiciously designed scheme. The federal government was provided with ample warnings covering fire risk, especially regarding the installation of insulation near exhaust fans or halogen down lights. Indeed, AS 3999 – Thermal insulation of dwellings and the Building Code of Australia specified minimum clearances. 168171

During the home insulation program, statistics confirmed the number of fires in absolute terms actually increased. However, it was statistically insignificant given the escalation of insulation activity across the country. Despite extensive media reports, the prevalence was no greater than before the program started. It may even suggest an apparent improvement in installation precautions, especially regarding the proximity of insulating material to heat generating mechanical and electrical equipment within roof cavities. It is regrettable that any fires occurred but only a small number resulted in significant asset damage and there were no recorded fatalities, which was confirmed via an independent study. 172174

The rate of fraud and abuse associated with the home insulation program was unclear although it is uncontested that it occurred and its prevalence was unacceptable. A senate inquiry confirmed the incidence of fraud was a predictable outcome of a program that encouraged an influx of emerging businesses into a small and largely unregulated sector. Its imprudent design stimulated an orgy of profiteering with rampant exploitation of householders and a vulnerable unskilled workforce. Despite critical media coverage regular internal government departmental reports confirmed the program was operating smoothly and fulfilling its objectives. However, following the four fatalities, adverse publicity and escalating political pressure, an implementation report acknowledged increasing difficulties. A central agency taskforce reviewed the foil insulation component of the program. It identified numerous significant safety risks and recommended an exit strategy. This would increase the government’s liability and create intense pressure to resolve many other noncompliant and controversial issues with the program. 175179

In early February 2010 following the electrocution of Mitchell Sweeney, the federal government suspended the use of reflective foil laminate insulation. It was supported by some extraordinary ministerial magniloquence, which reinforced that…….Safety of householders and installers is an absolute priority of the program. This was an extremely belated, insensitive and mendacious statement given the previous fatalities and serious injuries directly related to the program. The Strategic Priorities and Budget Committee reviewed the taskforce report and on the 19th February 2010 the home insulation program was suspended. It intended to replace the program with a renewable energy bonus scheme. Meanwhile, Dr. Alan Hawke was appointed to undertake an extensive review covering administration of the home insulation program and the existing arrangements. Since its inception the program processed 1.1 million claims at a cost of $1.47 billion. 180184

The decision required immediate remedial measures to reduce federal government liability and address residual safety risks. It included a foil insulation safety program, costing almost $85 million, which involved safety inspections for an estimated 50,000 homes that were insulated with reflective foil laminate. This enabled householders to have foil insulation removed or following an inspection from a licensed electrical contractor, residual current devices or safety switches could be installed. An additional home insulation safety program costing almost $340 million was required to resolve safety concerns for the estimated 150,000 homes installed with alternative insulation. 185187

Pale rider

At the end of February 2010, Greg Combet was appointed to manage the home insulation program. It included the termination process and implementation of transitional remediation programs. Meanwhile, responsibility for the program transferred to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. This established a significant and discernible level of competence and diligence with invaluable support from Dr. Martin Parkinson and Martin Bowles. The remediation programs were a costly exercise but were successfully delivered without additional adverse consequences. It provided substantial evidence that with diligent, determined and meticulous management, the home insulation program could have been delivered without significant injuries or loss of life. It also exposed the ineffectiveness of its audit and compliance regime. 188191

The federal government initially provided a rolled gold guarantee that the home insulation program would continue operating until December 2011. This encouraged numerous established businesses to invest significant resources in the project and contribute to stimulating the economy. However, the unexpected suspension of the program left many reputable organisations and their employees devastated and some form of federal government assistance or compensation was required. 192193

This was provided via two interim schemes costing an estimated $56 million. The Insulation Workers Adjustment Package provided assistance for the retention of workers until the Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme commenced. It was administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and sought to assist some 6,000 employees with transition to alternative employment. Employers and employees were eligible to access the package provided the business had no unresolved serious compliance issues under the original program. An Insulation Industry Assistance Package administered by AusIndustry provided financial support for home ceiling insulation businesses to cover the costs of accumulated inventory when the program was suddenly terminated. Eligible businesses could apply for a single cash payment to cover 15% of their existing ceiling insulation stock as of 30th April 2010 and entitlements were capped at $500,000 per claimant. It did not cover reflective foil laminate products and operated until 4th July 2010. An alternative avenue was pursued by a number of disgruntled businesses using the federal government Scheme for Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration. Several organisations submitted claims and all but two were rejected. This scheme was based on moral principles rather than legal obligations. It was not intended to compensate businesses for commercial losses caused by a lawful government action to terminate the program. 194198

In April 2010, Dr Alan Hawke completed the home insulation program review and the subsequent report painted a pretty bleak picture for the industry. It recommended the proposed replacement Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme be abandoned or deferred until safety and compliance issues were resolved and could be managed effectively. This was accepted by Greg Combet and the proposed replacement scheme was scrapped and the home insulation program was officially terminated on 22nd April 2010. The limited departmental resources were deployed to close the program, avoid further risk and ensure remediation programs fulfilled their objectives. 199201

Unforgiven

The royal commission confirmed the deaths of four young installers participating in the Rudd government’s home insulation program would not have occurred had the scheme been properly designed and implemented. The government envisioned, devised, designed and delivered a program that allowed legions of inexperienced, avaricious and unscrupulous vagabond employers to exploit masses of vulnerable young workers. It should have done much more to protect them. There was an inevitable conflict between stimulating the economy and insulating over 2.2 million homes and the program sacrificed meticulous planning for speed. This was exacerbated by ineffective consultation and an unrealistic commencement date and impracticable schedule, which was unopposed by numerous servile public serpents. The market driven model adopted a unilateral laissez faire approach with a malevolent freedom to harm using unskilled contingent labour amidst a vulture culture of casino capitalism. It ought to have been obvious to any competent administration that the injection of substantial amounts of money into a largely unfettered industry would generate escalating risks of fraud and other deceitful behaviour. The program was best summarised by an established builder who described the entire scheme as a spaghetti western. 202206

Its sudden termination devastated many established and reputable businesses and left plenty of blood on the streets. Families were financially ruined and psychologically destroyed and the remediation schemes offered little assistance, which justifies suitable remuneration from the federal government. It was delivered too quickly with insufficient knowledge about industry and consumer behaviour and without any meaningful consultation. Meanwhile, the revolving doors keep on spinning, especially in deep north Queensland. Its industrial relations minister recently appointed a flamboyant businessman and director with the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as its independent electrical safety commissioner. 207209

The Rudd government was elected in 2007 to use the power granted by the franchise to represent organised workers and reduce inequity. Labour ministers often apologised about the subversion of democracy, now it is acknowledged as an achievement. Indeed, the people who knew Kevin Rudd best, liked him least and those who claimed they liked him, never actually met him. The obscurantist former prime minister may wish to reflect on the words of Thomas Hardy in Jude the Obscure….Do not do an immoral thing for moral reasons. 210214

 

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