Pulling the scheme hasn’t insulated the Government
GONE are the days of burning the Midnight Oil and singing about the dangers of environmental degradation.
Peter Garrett is beginning to learn it’s not easy being green when you are in Government.
After originally singing the praises of his $2.5 billion insulation program, the Environment Minister is now at risk of finding himself in the political wilderness over the accident-prone rebate scheme which he unceremoniously dumped on Friday.
As evidence piled up of dodgy or poorly-trained installers, safety problems with some insulation products and rorting of the rebates, a quick exit from the Government-funded scheme became an inevitable outcome.
But if Garrett thought this move would halt criticism and help him recycle his battered image, he seems to have been mistaken.
Reader comments to online news sites have been looking for a scapegoat, and although the Environment Minister still has Prime Minister Rudd’s support, he is looking more and more like a sitting duck - or a goose, as Lennie Sparks of Parramatta suggested on The Daily Telegraph site: “By scrapping the plan as it stood, he has admitted that it was severely flawed. He is even more flawed and the sooner this goose goes the better for all Australians.”
Suggestions of Garrett’s failure to recognise problems with the insulation scheme in the face of ongoing warnings has not helped.
John of Albany Creek wrote on The Courier-Mail site: “The minister is not being blamed for things out of his control but rather that he repeatedly ignored warnings over a considerable period of time. For that he can be blamed!”
Bigfella of Corrupt Queensland 4 Sale thought responsibility should not stop with Garrett and that Labor’s program was doomed from the start: “If someone (Rudd and Garrett) calls out ‘free money’ then it would not take a genius to work out they would soon be swarmed with shonks willing to take that money.
However Rudd and Garrett were so busy basking in the glory of being popular that they did not look out for those shonks … This Government was negligent in letting anybody with an ABN install the insulation and should be accountable for its lack of duty of care.”
Fred of Windsor on Adelaide Now argued the rebate scheme was not such a bad idea. Rather the problem was the way it was administered: “So we get rid of what could be a good scheme because a useless minister cannot administer it? Would it not have made more sense to keep the scheme and get rid of the useless minister?”
Andrew of Australia defended the initiative, directing the blame at some of the installers: “Actually, it was a great idea spoilt by (as usual) a proliferation of quick buck ‘Dodgy Brothers’ installers going for the big grab. Providing funding didn’t hurt anyone or put anyone at risk.”
Pointing to the four deaths of installers since the program began, Let’s Lay the Blame Correctly wrote on The Canberra Times site: “The Government did not employ these poor souls who lost their lives, the contractors did. If you want to take this idea to its extreme, then the government of the day is responsible for every death that occurs in the workplace and by any standard. That is an absolutely ridiculous charge.”
In a bid to curb thousands of job losses in the industry, the Government says it will pay to retrain workers who lose their jobs and replace both the insulation and solar rebate schemes with a new renewable energy rebate to start in June.
John N summed up the cost of the dumped insulation program in a comment to The Australian: “Whoever wears the blame, it is the taxpayer who pays for the mess. We paid for Grocery Watch, whale watch, the computers and all the foolish fancies of the ALP. We pay for and it ain’t stopped yet.”
With a federal election due later this year, a pattern of Government green initiatives going into the red could be a crucial tipping point in the electorate - and not just for Garrett.
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