Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd is suing the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) over a report that claimed he was warned of “critical risks” of his government’s home insulation program before the deaths of four young installers in 2010.
The ABC on Wednesday reported that Rudd and senior Labor lawmakers Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and Lindsay Tanner were warned in a report to Cabinet in 2009 that their national rollout of subsidized home insulation — part of an economic stimulus package — faced “critical risks.”
The report emphasized it was unclear if “critical risks” referred to safety concerns.
The report was part of a series of the stories the ABC has dubbed the “Cabinet Files,” related to thousands of top-secret and highly classified Cabinet documents found in two locked filing cabinets sold at an ex-government sale in Canberra.
On Wednesday, the ABC reported that Rudd had told a royal commission into the home insulation program, in 2014, that the insulation program would have been delayed if Cabinet had been warned of the safety risks.
“Right through until February 2010 each of the monthly reports said that the Energy Efficiency program of the government was on track,” Rudd told the royal commission, as reported by the ABC.
Rudd was quoted in the ABC’s story rejecting any assertion that he was warned of the safety risks to installers, or failed to act on such warnings, before the deaths of the young men in 2010.
Rudd yesterday issued another statement, saying he was suing the ABC.
“The report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation alleging I ignored warnings on risks to the safety of installers of home insulation is a lie,” he said. “First, the Cabinet document referred to by the ABC was given to and considered by the royal commission into the home insulation program by the [former Australian prime minster Tony] Abbott government in 2014.”
“Therefore, this is not a new document. Abbott gave all my government’s Cabinet documents to the royal commission on the home insulation program, against the advice of the prime minister’s department and the Australian government solicitor. And having seen this document, and all other relevant Cabinet papers, the royal commission concluded that there was no finding to be made against me, and in fact, that while serving as prime minister ‘there was no warning given of the very many problems with the program,’” Rudd said.
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