Whose batty idea was free insulation?
Free insulation. Who could have dreamed up this doozy? Here’s what Sharan Burrow, head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions said in December 2008, words she echoed on 20 January 2009.
The global financial crisis and the potential impact on employment shows another way that we can make green investment work for the economy, the environment and jobs for Australian families. That is why the ACTU with ACOSS, the Climate Institute and the Australian Conservation Federation is calling for a ‘green new deal’ – an urgent stimulus package of investment into a program of retrofitting housing and commercial and public buildings to make them more water and energy efficient, and into infrastructure assets that will reduce our carbon footprint.
There’s not much analysis there, especially of the impact on unemployment of installing insulation in 2.2 million dwellings for free. It is interesting that Rudd has picked this retrofitting idea for insulation up. It’ll be some sort of trade off with the ACTU no doubt. Go easy on our WorkChoices Lite laws and we’ll support your proposal for free insulation, a proposal driven by the needs of building industry workers for work.
But according to Peter Costello, the former Tory Treasurer, the idea had been knocking around the public service for a while, and he knocked it back a few years ago.
I hope unemployed Australians – an extra 300,000 conservatively estimated for this year - remain cool during their stretch on the dole
And that’s the problem. Putting insulation into houses won’t create extra employment; it won’t even halt the slide into mass unemployment that is about to occur.