Truss supporting fire victims

IN NOVEMBER last year Billeena Chapman and Ricky Walker had insulation installed in their Tiaro home.

Two hours later Billeena, who was pregnant at the time, ran for her life with her youngest child in her arms as their uninsured timber home burned to the ground.

The couple has spent nine months trying to find permanent accommodation.

They are now living in emergency housing in Maryborough.

But finally the family has found assistance, in the form of Wide Bay MP and Nationals’ leader Warren Truss, who has gone in to bat for the family while also condemning the Federal Government’s botched home insulation scheme.

Mr Truss raised the issue during Question Time this week, asking Prime Minister Julia Gillard if the person who installed the insulation in the Tiaro home was registered under the government’s Home Insulation Program.

“They’ve certainly had a very tough time,” Mr Truss said.

“It’s a very tough time for a young family with six children.”

Mr Truss said the fact that the fire occurred just two hours after the insulation was installed suggested it was “almost certainly” at fault.

“It would have been better if they were insured but there are definitely ways this family can be assisted.”

While the Walker family may well be the worst example of the failed home insulation scheme on the Fraser Coast, they are by no means alone.

Mr Truss said he had been approached by dozens of people who were concerned that their homes and lives were now in danger after their roofs had been found to be electrified or their insulation not properly installed.

People had been told that even if their insulation appeared to be correctly installed now there could be problems in 10 or 15 years’ time, meaning their homes have essentially become ticking time bombs, Mr Truss said.

Some have been left with holes in their ceilings that have not yet been repaired and others fear their home and contents insurance is now null and void because of improper insulation installation.

“This fire is one of the worst illustrations of this mismanaged program,” Mr Truss said.

Permanent accommodation and compensation are two of the ways the family could be assisted by the government, Mr Truss said.

“I would like to see them provided with some compensation – that’s the issue.”

Along with everything else, the family also lost the record of their insulation installation in the fire, which could hinder their compensation claims, although Mr Truss is still hopeful the family can receive some compensation.

“I certainly hope there will be a good outcome,” he said.

A Department of Climate Change spokesperson said more evidence was needed before the family’s claims to compensation could be determined.

“To date, the Department of Climate Change has not been advised by authorities of the installation of insulation under the Home Insulation Program being linked to the fire that occurred in Tiaro in November.

“If the department was to be made aware of such a link, it would investigate those claims and take appropriate action where required.”

They were also unable to reveal whether the person who installed the insulation was registered under the scheme.

‘This fire is one of the worst illustrations of this mismanaged program’

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