5 Jul 2013

Rudd 'deeply sorry' for insulation deaths

1:21 pm on 5 July 2013

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he is deeply sorry for the deaths of three young tradesmen who were killed as a result of botched home insulation scheme introduced by his government.

A Queensland Coroner has criticised employers and supervisors, as well as various state government agencies, for numerous safety failings that lead to the deaths of the three men in 2009 and 2010.

But AAP reports the issue also has potential to damage Mr Rudd, who announced the programme as part of stimulus efforts to shield Australia from the global financial crisis. He was prime minister from 2007 - 2010.

"This is an unspeakable tragedy affecting a young boy, a young man, and young men," Mr Rudd said on Thursday night in Jakarta.

"I cannot as a parent begin to understand the grief the parents would be feeling under these circumstances."

Mr Rudd said the government accepted the Coroner's conclusions.

"Let's not beat around the bush. This was a government programme," he said.

"I would simply say on behalf of the Australian government how deeply sorry I am, and of course we apologise without reservation."

Former Environment Minister Peter Garrett took the fall for the programme that led to deaths of three men in Queensland and another in New South Wales. AAP reports the programme was also blamed for a number of house fires.

The ABC reports the men were using metal staples to lay electrically conductive insulation when the practice had already been banned in New Zealand.

Coroner Michael Barnes said in all cases they had not been given adequate training or supervision by the companies involved.

He also criticised the federal government for rushing through the programme in a bid to stimulate the economy during the global financial crisis.