Unintended consequences of inadequate preparation

The Australian Government instigated a rebate scheme for ceiling insulation for domestic homes in order to the climatic impacts of heating one’s home.  The rebates effectively make insulation free and, as a result, there is a boom in insulation installation.

As with any boom in any industry, there is an influx of new workers.  The Australian newspaper reports the death of an installer in Brisbane in mid-October 2009 and the shortcomings this death illustrates.

The article says that the rebate scheme has been so popular that fibreglass batts are not available so installers are using foil-based reflective insulation.

Master Electricians Association president Malcolm Richards said the foil-based products should be banned in established homes because untrained installers were stapling foil on to live electricity wires.  He said the practice was the cause of last week’s tragedy in Brisbane and electricians were being increasingly called on to repair dodgy work.”

Firstly, electricians are always being called on to repair the botched electrical work of others.  Secondly, it’s not the fault of the foil suppliers so it seems unfair to ban a legitimate insulation product.

The Master Electricians Association is facing the problem that others face every day, unqualified workers doing the work normally undertaken by qualified workers.

The political opportunism by some in this article is regrettable.

The Australian Government should have learnt from its computers-in-schools initiative/debacle that there are ancillary costs with any government program and that these costs should be considered in the policy development and/or have relevant organisations consulted so that the necessary support services are prepared for the plan’s launch and operation.

The computers-in-schools program did not consider the software costs to use on the free computer for ever secondary school student.  The LPG conversion rebate did not consider the scale of demand.  The solar panel rebate scheme was cancelled even though the demand was great.  The home insulation scheme has drawn inexperienced installers into the industry.  All good intentions harmed through poor planning and some of that harm can be the death of workers.

Kevin Jones

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