Although four people subsequently died working under the scheme, the minister in charge Peter Garrett reportedly believed it was easy to install pink batts.
According to an email from a cabinet staffer, former environment minister Mr Garrett and a federal environment department secretary thought the task was “not that hard”, an inquiry has heard.
They shared the view at a meeting on April 3, 2009, two months after the scheme’s announcement.
“The secretary and the minister compared notes on their personal experience in installing batts! ‘not that hard’,” the email from cabinet and prime minister’s department staffer Martin Hoffman read.
The royal commission into the former Labor government’s scheme was told that insulation companies were given only hours warning – via text message – about the termination of the scheme.
They were informed on February 19, 2010 that the program would end at 5pm that day, after a 2.30pm public announcement to that effect.
The former Rudd government pulled the pin on the stimulus measure after workers Matthew Fuller, Rueben Barnes, Mitchell Sweeney and Marcus Wilson died while installing insulation.
But insulation companies had no idea the program was going to be dumped as they’d been told to beef up employment, the supply of manufacturing materials and capital investment.
Michael Windsor QC, who is representing insulation companies at the inquiry, said the program’s end left the industry in tatters.
Mr Windsor, who is also fighting for compensation for businesses adversely affected by the scheme’s termination, said insulation companies were given little chance of off-loading stock and meeting obligations with suppliers.
The abrupt end of the stimulus program, he said, also negatively affected the economy with jobs lost and companies unable to meet obligations with financial institutions.
Under cross-examination by Mr Windsor, Mr Hoffman agreed that insulation companies were somewhat negatively affected by the announcement.
When asked when he became aware about the government’s decision to end the program, Mr Hoffman said: “It would have been a few days before … it would have been right at that period.”
Mr Hoffman also said that no industry body, to his knowledge, had been informed of the government’s decision at that time.
The inquiry into the troubled scheme also heard on Wednesday of how the government took a “light touch” approach to installer registration standards.
Mr Hoffman said it was important to note the tight exit approach, which included a one-strike policy for those who breached safety guidelines.
But Richard Perry QC, who is representing the Fuller and Barnes families, said the “light touch” approach did nothing to stop installers dying while using metal staples to secure foil insulation, like Mr Fuller.
Former co-ordinator-general Mike Mrdak is expected to give evidence at the royal commission when it resumes on Thursday.