While fires and heat exhaustion were discussed before the federal home insulation program rollout, the possibility of installers being killed wasn’t.
A highly paid consultant hired by the Rudd government to help prepare a risk assessment for its home insulation program says she didn’t understand installers could die.
Margaret Coaldrake, who was paid up to $1680 a day at one stage, has told a royal commission of how greater emphasis was placed on financial and reputational risks to the government than installer safety.
Four men lost their lives working under the scheme that’s also been blamed for more than 100 house fires.
Ms Coaldrake said while the risk of house fires and heat exhaustion were discussed before the program’s rollout, the possibility of installers being killed wasn’t.
“I don’t recall anyone saying to me an installer could die or be injured,” she told the inquiry.
Counsel Assisting Keith Wilson asked Ms Coaldrake why death or injury wasn’t considered a risk to the Commonwealth.
“I didn’t understand it could happen,” she said.
But later Ms Coaldrake agreed the risk of installer injury was raised at a workshop she facilitated on March 23 2009.
A risk document developed from that meeting shows “injury to installers” listed twice under the heading “installation quality”.
But “injuries to installers” wasn’t included in the April 9 2009 risk register prepared by Ms Coaldrake.
She couldn’t recall there being a deliberate decision to take it out.
Ms Coaldrake told the inquiry she wasn’t a “risk assessor”, but assisted the federal environment department to identify and assess risks that might have an impact on the program’s implementation.
She said public servants came up with the potential risks, which she recorded in a risk register.
Ms Coaldrake was initially contracted by the government from early March to April 30 2009 while working as a consultant for Minter Ellision.
She later worked on the home insulation program for Langdale Consulting.
The inquiry was shown documents stating Ms Coaldrake was paid $40,000 for her consulting work between July and December 2009, with a maximum daily rate of $1680.
During her evidence, Ms Coaldrake agreed the risk assessment was more focused on financial and reputational risks than installer safety, but said this wasn’t uncommon for government programs.
She said the risk to installers was outside the Commonwealth’s control and it was her understanding installer supervision was a matter for state and territory regulators.
Ms Coaldrake will continue her evidence at the inquiry on Tuesday.