The families of insulation workers killed while rolling out the former government’s home insulation scheme hope a Royal Commission will give them closure.
Questions that have tormented four families will finally be aired in a Royal Commission into the botched home insulation scheme.
Queenslanders Matthew Fuller, Rueben Barnes, Mitchell Sweeney and New South Welshman Marcus Wilson all died while working on the rollout of the so-called “pink batts” scheme set up in 2009.
The $2.8 billion program was implemented by then-prime minister Kevin Rudd to inject money into the economy during the global financial crisis, but families have blamed a rushed rollout and lax standards for the deaths.
Mr Fuller was electrocuted when he shot a metal staple into a live electrical cable at a home south of Brisbane in October 2009.
“Since Matthew’s tragic death we have spent countless hours investigating what went wrong,” Mr Fuller’s parents, Kevin and Christine, said in a joint statement.
“We know there are many questions that remain unanswered and we are confident the Royal Commission will finally get to the bottom of the true failings of the program.”
The lawyer representing Mr Sweeney’s family said his death could have been prevented had his employer taken simple, inexpensive safety measures.
Titan Insulation was fined $100,000 for unsafe practices in 2011 after the 22-year-old north Queenslander suffered a similar death to Mr Fuller in February 2010.
Lawyer Bill Potts is representing Murray Barnes, the father of 16-year-old installer Rueben, who was electrocuted while laying batts in the ceiling cavity of a house at Stanwell in Queensland.
He had only started working with his insulation company employer 21 days earlier.
Mr Potts said Mr Barnes wants the former government to take responsibility for its actions.
“To prevent other young men from effectively being butchered for what appears to have been rushed legislation,” he said.
The commission will investigate whether the practices of the government at the time contributed to the four deaths and extensive property damage in the wake of the scheme.
Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten would not be drawn on whether he thought Mr Rudd should appear before the inquiry, but said he doesn’t want it to turn into a political game.
“Health and safety should be the focus of the government, not whether or not the government wants to square off with Kevin Rudd,” Mr Shorten said.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Royal Commission was necessary to make sure mistakes were not repeated.
“What we want to do with this … is learn the appropriate lessons from this disastrous episode in our history and make sure that it never happens again,” he said in Canberra.
The commission will commence with a preliminary hearing Brisbane on December 23.
In July, a Queensland coroner found the rushed rollout of the scheme was a significant factor in the deaths of Mr Sweeney, Mr Fuller and Mr Barnes.