IF the road to hell is paved with good intentions, there could be no better example than the federal government’s disastrous $2.5 billion home insulation program and its associated solar hot water program.
Both were scrapped yesterday and will be replaced, though not for some months, by a new scheme to provide rebates of up to $1000, paid to home owners through the Medicare system, rather than the $1200 rebate which had been paid to installers.
The former schemes were announced with the fanfare that they would “install ceiling insulation in many Australian homes and help up to 420,000 households install a solar hot water system.”
The package was described as “practical steps” which would “create jobs, help millions of households reduce their energy use, cut power bills by up to $700 a year and increase the comfort and value of homes.”
Instead, the insulation program, described as “a train wreck” and a “free for all” in a Senate Inquiry yesterday, has resulted in claims that 40 per cent of homes had sub-standard insulation installed and news that four young men have died while installing insulation under the scheme.
Gympie people have experienced the scheme first hand, with what is believed to have been one of Australia’s highest rates of installation of foil insulation per household.
Several have told horror stories of poor installation and sometimes serious damage to their homes by dodgy operators, including some who remain on the old scheme’s list of approved installers. Mr Garrett said it was no longer possible to manage the schemes’ risks at “an acceptable level.”