Heat on for industry
ONE Bundaberg company laid off 14 workers on Monday as the Federal Government’s bungled insulation installation scheme started to take its toll.
Allsafe Energy Efficient Products owner Richard Cullum said the work from the scheme was a major component in his business.
When Environment Minister Peter Garrett cut the rebate to $1000 and delayed the start of it to June 1 last week, Mr Cullum knew he was going to have to lose staff.
While he thought the basic government incentive was a great idea, he said the way it was implemented allowed dodgy operators into the business.
“The government sent me an email saying they would have to de-register 4000 operators to get back to bed rock,” he said.
“We’ve been audited three times, they’ve been over us with a fine-tooth comb, and we’ve been cleared every time.”
Mr Cullum, whose company is one of the biggest operators in Bundaberg, said the 14 workers he put off yesterday would be without jobs until the rebate scheme started up again in June.
“They’ll only be off work for three months. Their jobs will be here when they come back,” he said.
But Mr Cullum said he was aware of the financial pain this would inflict on many of them, who would still have to pay their bills for the next three months.
“It was the suddenness of the announcement that caught us,” he said.
“The government said they all had to be fully accredited and we paid $600 each for that, then on Friday they’re all out of jobs.”
About half of the laid-off workers already had stop-gap jobs, such as fruit picking, until their insulation jobs came back.
Mr Cullum is concerned about the damage the controversial scheme would do to legitimate operators.
“The trouble is we all get tarred with the same brush,” he said.
Mr Cullum said he had seen at first hand some of the questionable practices by people who jumped on the insulation rebate bandwagon.
He was recently asked to measure the ceiling area of a house that had been measured by two other operators.
“One told her it was 165sq m, the second told her it was 135sq m, and when I measured it, it was 95sq m,” he said.
But Mr Cullum believed his business would survive the disruption.