A senior bureaucrat in the Rudd government home insulation scheme has been warned about giving false or misleading evidence to an inquiry.
A Rudd government bureaucrat has been warned against giving false or misleading evidence at the royal commission into the troubled pink batts scheme.
Will Kimber, a former assistant director in the home insulation policy team who says he repeatedly flagged installer safety risks to his superiors, received the warning when he resumed his evidence on Thursday afternoon.
Counsel Assisting Keith Wilson said Mr Kimber should be reminded about his obligations under the Royal Commissions Act given his “lack of recollection” about matters earlier in the day.
Commissioner Ian Hanger QC said: “Mr Kimber there is some concern about some of the evidence you’re giving as to whether it’s reliable or not.”
Mr Kimber said he understood it was an offence for a witness to knowingly give false or misleading evidence at a royal commission.
The offence carries a penalty of up to five years imprisonment or a fine as large as $20,000.
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Hanger cautioned Mr Kimber about the “very serious” evidence he was giving.
“Be careful to be accurate,” Mr Hanger said.
Mr Kimber had told the inquiry that he repeatedly warned his superiors about installer safety risks in the home insulation program before the deaths of four workers.
Queenslanders Matthew Fuller, Rueben Barnes, Mitchell Sweeney, and Marcus Wilson from NSW, lost their lives working under the stimulus scheme rolled out on July 1 2009.
Mr Kimber said he had been worried about installers using metal staples to secure foil insulation, a dangerous practice linked to three New Zealand deaths in 2007.
Mr Fuller, 25, was electrocuted doing that on October 14, 2009.
Mr Wilson asked why the use of foil wasn’t immediately suspended after Mr Fuller’s death.
“I can’t say way it was done, only that I made representations to that effect including before the death happened and that practice continued,” Mr Kimber said.
The government should have taken “time out” from the program because of the risk of further deaths and fires, he said.
Mr Kimber said throughout 2009 he raised concerns about the program with his superiors, including environment department assistant secretary Kevin Keeffe, both privately and via email.
However the royal commission does not have copies of those emails.
Mr Hanger warned Mr Kimber to be careful not to put the commonwealth lawyer onto a chain of emails that didn’t exist.
But Mr Kimber maintained he sent the emails, although he couldn’t be precise about their content.
The Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) will conduct a search for the emails.
The inquiry resumes on Friday.