Kevin Rudd told insulation program ‘on track’ until four installers dead

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd leaves the Home Insulation Inquiry on Wednesday night. Photo: Glenn HuntKevin Rudd’s full statementThe Pulse LIve: Judith Ireland blogs live

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was told the home insulation program was “on track” until four installers had died, it has been revealed.

Mr Rudd has succeeded in his extraordinary bid to reveal details of cabinet discussions at the royal commission in Brisbane investigating the botched scheme.

In his full statement, published on Thursday morning, Mr Rudd said the insulation scheme was never elevated to a “red level”, which would have alerted him and other ministers to that fact that the program was “in difficulty”.

“I cannot recall any of these reports [to cabinet] through until March 2010 identifying that the home insulation program was anything other than on track,” Mr Rudd said.

He said the full cabinet considered analyses of the government’s major projects, including the insulation scheme, during its sitting on October 13, 2009.

“Under the major risks section of the analysis, there were no issues realised in relation to home insulation program,” Mr Rudd said.

The scheme’s first victim, 25-year-old Matthew Fuller, was electrocuted while laying insulation the following day.

Mr Rudd told the inquiry on Thursday he was never warned about the safety risks in the program.

“If a question of safety had been at stake and ministers had been advised, knowing my colleagues quite well, and knowing myself well, the reaction would have been ‘hang on here, if there’s a problem we need to look at this’, and on that basis push it out,” he said from the witness box.

He said safety was a “pre-existing condition” alive in all statutes of all states and territories.

“Safety is not an optional question for any government to dictate in any capital program,” Mr Rudd said.

Mr Rudd said members of the public service designed the insulation program before it was put to cabinet for approval.

“On the safety dimensions of any government program … this would normally be part of public service due diligence procedures, before moving the implementation of any given cabinet decision,” he said in his statement.

“Cabinet, of which I was the chair, collectively approved the plan put to it by the public service on home insulation …

“The home insulation program was not recommended by ministers, but by the public service itself.”

The hearing before Ian Hanger QC continues.

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