An adviser to the home insulation program has told a royal commission he was bullied and harassed after he went beyond his duties to warn of safety fears
An adviser to the Rudd government’s home insulation program says he suffered psychological abuse because he dared to speak out about severe safety problems when he wasn’t authorised to.
Environmental scientist Tony Delbridge has told a royal commission his determination to expose safety flaws with the program eventually led to his sacking.
The stimulus measure launched by the Labor government led by former prime minister Kevin Rudd in 2009 has been blamed for four deaths, one serious injury and more than 200 house fires.
In a second day of testimony, Dr Delbridge says he went over his superiors’ heads to contact other states and territories about concerns over safety breaches in Queensland after being ignored in that state.
Only West Australian authorities responded, but Dr Delbridge was sacked before he could see the matter through.
Dr Delbridge did it because he felt “the duty of care to the program and the commonwealth in this situation far outweighed me breaking the rules”.
But stepping outside the boundaries of his role led to harassment and bullying.
“I don’t think you realise what I went through in the short time that I was there and the impact that working on that program had on my psychologically,” he told the commission on Friday.
“My state at the end of my employment in that organisation was not good.”
Dr Delbridge, who had only worked on the program for four months, told the commission on Thursday he was sacked almost immediately after he raised safety concerns with director Aaron Hughes during a meeting in July 2009.
It followed months of repeatedly raising concerns about risks, including installer safety and the dangers of foil insulation.
Earlier on Friday, a manager for industry skills council EE-Oz, Anthony Plevey, told the inquiry his organisation wasn’t aware foil insulation was being used prior to the program’s first death – Queensland installer Matthew Fuller, 25, on October 14, 2009.
“If our organisation had have been more engaged in the process, there certainly is a strong possibility of a different outcome,” he said.
The royal commission before Ian Hanger QC is scheduled to finish on May 16 and is expected to hear from Mr Rudd on May 14.
Mr Hanger is expected to deliver his findings by June 30.