A Queensland home insulation program was destroyed financially by the premature end of the home insulation program.
Former environment minister Peter Garrett’s word that the home insulation program would last caused the financial ruin of a Queensland company, an inquiry has heard.
Greg Rashleigh has told a royal commission his company, All Seasons Insulation, ramped up business after he attended a meeting in March 2009 where Mr Garrett said the scheme would run for two years or until the money ran out.
Mr Rashleigh built a $2 million manufacturing mill.
Eleven months later, the Rudd government scheme, introduced during the global financial crisis, was prematurely terminated after the deaths of four installers.
Mr Rashleigh was forced to close his Toowoomba-based business of 34 years in May 2010, leaving him with the unused mill and $3.36 million worth of stock, the inquiry was told.
He later received 15 per cent commonwealth compensation for the insulation stock.
“Mr Garrett was the minister at the time and he was the one who was going to tell us if we could ramp up or not,” Mr Rashleigh said.
“Hearing it from him, especially from him, was sufficient for me to say we have to get going.”
Mr Rashleigh said he could still picture Mr Garrett gesturing emphatically with his right hand while giving his word.
“I can see him doing it right now … he’s got a hand three times as big as mine,” he said.
Mr Rashleigh said the early termination of the pink batts scheme left the industry in tatters.
“It was like someone turned the tap off,” he said.
“One day you were working 24/7 … the next day there was nothing.”
Mr Rashleigh said the industry still hadn’t recovered.
“Insulation is a dirty word. Nobody wants to know it,” he said.
Mr Garrett, former prime minister Kevin Rudd and senator Mark Arbib are not scheduled to appear at the royal commission before it adjourns next Wednesday.
They are expected give evidence in the second block of public hearings which begin on May 5 in Brisbane and are likely to run for two weeks.
The inquiry continues.