The former Commonwealth coordinator-general says the Rudd government’s home insulation scheme was the most concerning of all its economic stimulus measures.
Mike Mrdak told the royal commission into the troubled scheme he had reservations about the former government’s capacity to deliver a program to insulate some 2.7 million households in two and a half years.
The man charged with coordinating all of the former government’s stimulus programs in 2009 said there were a lot of unknowns because it was, to his knowledge, the first time the Commonwealth had directly delivered such a large program into Australian households.
It emerged early on that the environment department devising the scheme was extremely busy and had inadequate information technology and finance systems to deliver it, he added.
Under cross-examination on Thursday from counsel assisting, Keith Wilson, Mr Mrdak agreed that out of all the programs in the $42 billion economic stimulus package, the home insulation scheme was the one that kept him up at night.
But he said it was always his understanding that training would be an integral part of the scheme.
“Your position was and remained until you left (the role) that training was a critical part of the program?” Mr Wilson asked.
“Yes,” Mr Mrdak replied.
“And training of all installers?” Mr Wilson said.
“Certainly that was my understanding.”
The inquiry has already heard how requirements to train all installers were scaled back to include only supervisors before the program’s July 1, 2009 rollout.
The home insulation program, announced in February 2009, ended up being flooded with new operators and low-skilled workers.
It has been blamed for the deaths of four young installers, one serious injury and at least 100 house fires.
The royal commission before Ian Hanger, QC, continues.