Warnings from New Zealand that three insulation workers were electrocuted when stapling through foil insulation into electric wires were not passed on by Australian officials setting up a subsidised insulation scheme.
A Royal Commission is investigating how the multi-billion dollar economic stimulus plan was rolled out in 2009 and whether the federal government ignored warnings about the safety risks involved.
Former ministerial adviser Matt Levy told the commission he and his then boss, former environment minister Peter Garrett, were surprised when an insulation worker was killed on the scheme in 2009.
That fatality was followed by three others but Mr Levy said neither he nor Mr Garrett knew about serious safety risks with the programme.
The commission heard departmental staff were warned about earlier deaths in New Zealand but Mr Levy said there was no record of that warning being passed on.