Kevin Rudd to be called to insulation Royal Commission

FORMER Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will be called to give evidence at the Royal Commission tasked with investigating the botched home insulation scheme which claimed four young lives and resulted in more than 100 house fires across the nation.

Queenslanders Matthew Fuller, 25, Reuben Barnes, 16, and Mitchell Sweeney, 22, were all electrocuted as a result of the controversial "pink batts" scheme established by the former Rudd government in 2009 to help stimulate the national economy during the global financial crisis.

New South Welshman Marcus Wilson, 19, also died as a result of the scheme.

The Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Scheme opened in Brisbane today with the public hearings expected to run for up to four weeks.

However, it is yet unclear whether the victim's families will receive the answers they are searching for.

Barrister acting for the Commonwealth Tom Howe asked the commission put in place "protective measures" to ensure sensitive Cabinet documents are not made public.

He also requested the commission extract any references made in witness statements which could fall into that category.

However, he said the Commonwealth was not seeking to "tie the hands of the royal commission" in doing so.

Commissioner Ian Hanger expressed reservations about the request as he believed it would diminish the effectiveness of the royal commission in the eyes of the public.

Counsel assisting the commission Keith Wilson said he did not want to investigate Cabinet deliberations, but the commission did want to investigate what advice, briefings, policies and submissions were made to them.

He said any documents or decisions that went up the chain to Cabinet should be made available for public scrutiny.

Earlier, Mr Wilson told the commission there had been 110 summonses issued resulting in more than 64,000 documents being produced.

He said the aim of the scheme was to install home instillation to more than 2.1 million homes built prior to 2003.

Mr Wilson said one area the commission would investigate is why the government changed from giving rebates of up to $1600 to homeowners to instead giving the rebates to installers halfway through the rollout.

He said as a result registered insulation companies went from 200 to more than 10,000 during that period.

The first person called to give evidence before the commission was Federal Environment Department assistant secretary Mary Wiley-Smith who said Mr Rudd's office gave the department two days over the Australia Day long weekend in 2009 to fully cost the scheme and consider all its risks.

She said she, along with the other person tasked with putting the massive scheme together, were ordered not to discuss the scheme with colleagues or any industry members.

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