Kevin Rudd's office knew about electrocution deaths in NZ

A SENIOR bureaucrat who helped roll out the botched home insulation scheme said she was aware of three deaths in New Zealand which occurred under a similar scheme.

Beth Brunoro, who worked in the Environment Department at the time, also revealed former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's office was made aware of the electrocution deaths in New Zealand shortly after the multi-billion dollar scheme was rolled out across the nation.

Ms Brunoro, who gave evidence via video link from Canberra, told the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Scheme on Tuesday there was a "sub team" developed in her team to look at any possible OHS risks associated with the rollout.

However, she told the commission she did not personally make any inquires into the three New Zealand deaths or their causes as she "assumed" the sub-team would investigate those issues.

She told the commission "she could not recall" if any discussions around electrical safety were raised during a roundtable meeting in February, 2009, the same meeting a industry expert was told they could not attend.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced the scheme in 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis with the aim of boosting the economy.

As a result, Queenslanders Matthew Fuller, 25, Rueben Barnes, 16, and Mitchell Sweeney, 22, were killed while installing insulation as part of the scheme.

New South Welshman Marcus Wilson, 19, also died as a result of the scheme.

Furthermore, more than 100 house fires across the country were attributed to the botched scheme.

The royal commission has heard the $2.5 billion program was dreamt up with such haste that two bureaucrats were given two days over the Australia Day long weekend in 2009 to fully cost the scheme and consider all its risks.


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