Kevin Rudd's deadly home insulation time line

KEVIN Rudd has permission from the Federal Government to give the Royal Commission into Home Insulation his uncensored statement, after it fought its release late Wednesday.

The former Prime Minister gave evidence to the royal commission on Thursday.

Lawyers for the Commonwealth warned the statement could be in breach of Cabinet Privilege.

Mr Rudd's barrister Bret Walker SC demanded the censored information be "ventilated" or risk hampering Mr Rudd's evidence.

Prior to Mr Rudd taking the witness box, Martin Sweeney - father of New South Wales installer Mitchell Sweeney killed in February 2010 - spoke to the commission.

He described the loss of his son as something "no family should have to go through".

"As Mitchell's father, it is my great hope it goes a long way to make sure something like this does not happen again," he said.

"We love you very much Mitchell, we will never stop missing you."

KEVIN RUDD'S CENSORED STATEMENT TO THE COMMISSION

KEVIN RUDD'S UNCENSORED STATEMENT

Kevin Rudd leaves royal commission barristers in knots

FORMER prime minister Kevin Rudd's moment in front of the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program descended into farce as barristers tied themselves in knots over whether he was legally able to answer questions.

Cabinet discussions are considered confidential - on par with national security matters - so they cannot be made public, even in court.

The Royal Commission created by the Abbott government in December to focus on Labor's mishandling of the Home Insulation Scheme means Mr Rudd may have to give evidence in private or be freed to ignore the sacred secrecy of Cabinet.

Swathes of Mr Rudd's 31-page statement to the commission had been blacked out on the grounds of cabinet privilege.
Commonwealth barrister Tom Howe told the commission an uncensored statement could not be accepted into the court and made public without breaching this privilege.

Mr Rudd would also not be able to make reference to anything that occurred within or that related to Cabinet.

With so much of the scheme determined inside Cabinet or in conversations relating to Cabinet, barrister Bret Walker SC said Mr Rudd could not hope to clear his name without privilege being waived.

Mr Walker said it was "an intolerable state of affairs" which threatened to hamper Mr Rudd's ability to address allegations made through the commission.

"We don't want to dance, we want to face it frontly and march straight ahead," Mr Walker said.

"The present government can't have it both ways.

"We are entitled publicly to answer questions the current government decided to make public."

Commissioner Ian Hanger AM QC considered whether the court could be closed.

The families of Matthew Fuller, Rockhampton teenager Rueben Barnes, Marcus Wilson and Mitchell Sweeney - who all died as a result of the program - objected to being excluded.

The drama followed ex-Environment Minister Peter Garrett's marathon interrogation.

The government's apparent lack of action following the death of Brisbane man Matthew Fuller, 25, in October 2009 - and prior to three other deaths - was in sharp focus.

By the time the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program adjourned just prior to 6.30pm, it was unclear whether he could legally discuss Cabinet matters bound by confidentiality.

The hearings will resume this morning, with Mr Rudd to face questioning once the legal implications are thrashed out.

 

THE LIFE OF A DEADLY SCHEME  - as told through Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's statement

  • Sep 2008 - $500 rebate offered to landlords for home insulation, first discussion of enlarged home insulation scheme to run from mid-2009.
  • Oct 2008 - Global Financial Crisis threatens Australia, government told hundreds of thousands jobs at risk.
  • Dec 2008 - "Nation Building Jobs Plan" developed, worth $42 billion, that would include insulation plan.
  • Jan 28, 2009 - Cabinet told Home Insulation Program (HIP) could create 9800 jobs.
  • Feb 3, 2009 - Plan announced to House of Representatives
  • Feb 5, 2009 - Endorsed by state governments at COAG
  • Feb 24, 2009 - Mark Arbib becomes Parliamentary Secretary for Government Service Delivery.
  • Jun 2009 - Arbib made Minister of same portfolio.
  • Jul 1, 2009 - Phase two of insulation program begins, massive uptake follows.
  • Jul 28, 2009 - Government now has 33,000 stimulus projects approved including insulation scheme, value tops $20 billion.
  • Aug 10, 2009 - First monthly "critical problems" report given to PM Kevin Rudd.  HIP has green light, meaning there are no issues identified.
  • Aug 14, 2009 - Environment Minister Peter Garrett writes to Mr Rudd, tells him of HIP success.
  • Sep 14, 2009 - Critical problems report given to Mr Rudd. HIP has green light. One month later, a 25-year-old insulation installer in Brisbane would be electrocuted.
  • Oct 14, 2009 - Matthew Fuller electrocuted in Brisbane roof.
  • Oct 22, 2009 - Critical problems report gives HIP green light. Mr Garrett gets PM agreement to changes, including the reduction of rebates.
  • Nov 2, 2009 - New safety measures including the banning of metal staples when installing insulation are approved.
  • Nov 18, 2009 - Rockhampton's Rueben Barnes, 17, electrocuted in Central Queensland roof.
  • Nov 21, 2009 - Marcus Wilson dies from heat exposure outside Sydney while installing insulation.
  • Jan 18, 2010 - Critical problems report gives HIP green light, no issues identified.
  • Feb 4, 2010 - Installer Mitchell Sweeney is electrocuted in a roof in far north Queensland.
  • Feb 19, 2010 -HIP is cancelled.
  • Mar 2010 - Critical problems report gives HIP amber light, some problems identified and was not "on track".


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