Home Insulation Scheme

17 May 2011 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs a question about home insulation.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In responding to questions in this place previously on this issue, the minister stated that 'OCBA commenced a fairly significant compliance campaign in July 2009'. The minister went on to say:

Any consumers who have any safety concerns about their insulation to contact the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs so that it can outline the steps they need to take in order to ensure their homes are safe.

A recent report in The Advertiser stated that over 17,000 South Australian homes had been fitted with installation under this scheme by unlicensed installers and just 686 inspections carried out. The federal government's climate change and energy efficiency department shows that just 64 calls from South Australians have been made to its safety hotline. My questions are:

1. Have all unlicensed operators who carried out that work on the 17,339 homes in South Australia been investigated?

2. How many calls has OCBA received from consumers affected by the installation scheme, and what has been the outcome?

3. Does the minister hold any concerns for the safety of South Australians who have had installation installed under the scheme?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Public Sector Management, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for Gambling) (14:35): I thank the honourable member for her questions. I have been advised that inspections are carried out by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency's (DCCEE) safety inspection program scheme. Obviously, this is a commonwealth scheme, and guidelines for those inspections are set by them. I am advised that in South Australia approximately 2,000 safety inspections have been undertaken as at 23 December; I think it was reported as something like 680-odd, which was completely incorrect. I have been advised that it was, in fact 2,000.

It should be pointed out that safety inspections of many of the unlicensed installers have not revealed significant installation safety issues. It is further advised that the DCCEE hotline has, in fact, received only 64 calls from South Australian consumers with safety concerns about unlicensed work, so there does not appear to be a lot of public concern out there. Obviously, these are matters for the DCCEE to respond to under its funded safety inspection program; it is that department's responsibility.

I have been advised that four media releases have been issued since April 2009 warning consumers about safety-related installation matters and of the need to use licensed installers. OCBA has also continued to make information about installation available on its website, including information about how to find a licensed installer. The OCBA website also has the DCCEE insulation hotline prominently displayed on the main page to highlight those safety concerns.

The scheme for inspection of the homes insulated was, as I said, conducted by the commonwealth. For homes that were insulated, it was required that the installer complete a form and hand that to the commonwealth for rebate. That data was checked against South Australian data to identify how many installations were made by unlicensed installers, and the commonwealth has made that information—for which it was responsible—available to OCBA only recently. Therefore, the information we have is still incomplete. We have requested detailed information from the commonwealth in respect of that information but, because of the incomplete nature of the information the commonwealth has handed on to us, we do not have any further details other than what I have reported in the house today.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:39): I have a supplementary question. When does the minister expect to get that information from the commonwealth?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Public Sector Management, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for Gambling) (14:39): I understand that the commonwealth has not advised when that information will be available. We have asked for it to be given to us expeditiously, and I am confident that the commonwealth government will accede to our request.