Toxic batts claim ups pressure on Garrett
13 2 2010
The Opposition has ramped up calls for Peter Garrett to resign as Environment Minister, after he said he was warned imported insulation batts may contain dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.
Mr Garrett has been under fire in Parliament all week over the safety of the Federal Government's insulation program, with the Opposition saying he repeatedly ignored safety warnings about problems that led to the deaths of four insulation installers.
Now Mr Garrett has confirmed that an industry leader warned him cheap imported insulation reeked of formaldehyde and could generate toxic fumes when heated.
Warrick Batt says says he has had several meetings with Mr Garrett over the last six months and also raised concerns about whether the batts were being installed to Australian standards.
Mr Garrett says he has not seen any proof to back up claims that dangerous levels of chemicals were present in the insulation batts.
"We know that formaldehyde is used as a binding agent, but all batts have to conform to Australian standards and if products that conform to those standards and have the appropriate warnings then they're acceptable to go into ceilings," he said.
Opposition Environment spokesman Greg Hunt says he should be sacked.
"It's about standing up for the Australian people on the basis of safety," he said.
Mr Hunt says it should not be left to the insulation industry to produce the proof.
"Mr Garrett's program created the problem, created the need for importing Chinese batts and we know that there are potentially deadly Chinese batts," he said.
"Of course the Government should oversee its program.
"To blame the industry, to blame the installers and not to take responsibility is simple negligence and the Minister now, surely, must go."
Opposition leader Tony Abbott says the matter calls into question Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's competency.
"Someone has to take responsibility for the very, very serious maladministration of this program," he said.
"But every day Mr Rudd protects this incompetent Minister, his own Prime Ministership is called more into question."
Mr Garrett says he has Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's full support.
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