The $25 million dollar Royal Commission into the botched insulation programme began on Monday. The Royal Commission is endeavoring to determine what went wrong, after the deaths of four young men were attributed to the $2 billion scheme that was largely devised to stave off the global financial crisis in early 2009 by the then prime minister Kevin Rudd and environment minister Peter Garrett.
There has been considerable speculation as to whether the ex-prime minister will be called to the witness box during the Royal Commission. In its biggest indicator yet, counsel has noted that there was an 'amoury of coercive powers' available to ensure witnesses give evidence in a Royal Commission case. The list of people required to give evidence is revealed closer to the hearing dates which is anticipated to be in March or April.
The Royal Commission has been long anticipated after the deaths of three Queenslanders and one man from NSW. In addition, upto 220 house fires are blamed on poorly trained installers. Established insulation companies also suffered financial losses, among them, Knauf Insulation in Australia.
Mr Rudd has apologised for the deaths in mid 2013 after the Queensland state coroner found that the implementation of the programme was 'rushed'. The Royal Commission has been asked to focus on how the actions of the [Rudd] Government may have contributed to those deaths, injuries andfinancial loss and damage to businesses'.