Thursday, 15 May 2014

Pink Batts Royal Commission could set dangerous precedents

Jack Waterford writes in Pink batts royal commission could rebound on Abbott:
If ever there was anything with a potential to be an own-goal, it would have to be the Abbott government's decision to establish a royal commission into the home insulation program, and the culpability of politicians and bureaucrats for the deaths of four installers, three by electrocution and one from hyperthermia.
With all of the benefit of hindsight - and one can expect that Hanger, even from 1200 kilometres away, will have plenty of that - we now know that the Commonwealth should never establish any program whatever without surrounding it with great quantities of red tape, rules, regulations, prescriptions, proscriptions, manuals and warnings. Bureaucrats and ministers - even the prime minister - should anticipate, warn against and effectively prevent every imaginable silly thing a builder - or, in due course, any entrepreneurial chancer - could do. Copious warnings should probably be in at least 16 languages, including Pitjantjatjarra.

No doubt it is for just this purpose that Abbott has set up a taskforce to rid the Commonwealth of unnecessary and cumbersome red tape, particularly in areas which are basically state responsibilities anyway.

Some will listen very carefully to statements made, either by counsel for the Commonwealth, or by counsel assisting, which attempt to set any new standard for ministerial responsibility. It will be new ground to have such a standard for work which has been completely contracted out to others, by householders, under regimes which are supposedly under the regulatory and supervisory structures of ''sovereign'' state governments. This could end up being a standard used to hang a future minister - perhaps an Abbott one.

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