“For the government, safety has always been the number one priority” – Really?

On 27 April 2010, less than 24 hours after a highly critical television program was broadcast about his government’s mismanagement of its insulation rebate scheme, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the families of the men who died while installing roof insulation.

“Certainly, when it comes to the Fuller family, I, together with other ministers of the government, are deeply sorry for what has occurred as it affects their loved ones and nothing, no action, actually brings those loved ones back,…”

There was a political imperative for the apology as the program reported that he met with one family and at the time expressed no regret.  But in the context of this blog’s subject area, Rudd has said something that should kill corporate safety pledges.  As reported widely in the media, the Prime Minister said:

“For the government, safety has always been the number one priority….”

The emptiness of this statement is stunning.  This is like a corporation saying safety is its number one concern to employees and stressing its (higher) obligations to shareholders to maximise their return on investment.

There is sufficient information and evidence in the public domain to clearly indicate that if the Prime Minister’s statement was true, the insulation program would have been delayed.

At the time of the program’s launch, Australia remained in the midst of the global economic crisis and the government decided that the top priorities were job creation through infrastructure spending and projects.  To say otherwise now is to insult the intelligence of Australians and to diminish any sincerity that his apology held.

Leadership?  Where?

Kevin Jones

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