Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has launched legal action against the ABC over its report yesterday that he was warned about “critical risks” of the doomed home insulation scheme before the deaths of four young installers.
It was part of the Cabinet Files published yesterday – yes, the highly classified cabinet files found inside two literal cabinets the ABC bought at an ex-government sale.
According to the report, Rudd, Julia Gillard, and two senior Labor ministers were warned about “critical risks” of the Energy Efficient Homes Package in April 2006, but doesn’t specify whether these were safety concerns.
If they were, it would mean Rudd lied to the Royal Commission into the program when he said that safety risks had never been reported – a line the Liberals have argued for years.
Rudd is now suing the ABC for defamation, arguing that allegations he ignored safety warnings are false.
“The report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) alleging I ignored warnings on risks to safety of installers of home insulation is a lie,” he said in a statement released this morning.
The “critical risks”, he says, referred to “financial and adminsitrative risks” only, and had nothing to do with safety.
On top of that, he is also arguing that the Royal Commission – which tabled its report in 2014 – had in fact already seen the report in question, and absolved him of guilt.
Oh, there’s also a Tony Abbott snipe in there, too.
“Abbott gave all my government’s cabinet documents to the Royal Commission on the Home Insulation Program, against the advice of the Prime Minister’s department and the Australian Government Solicitor,” he said. “And having seen this document, and all other relevant cabinet papers, the Royal Commission concluded that there was no finding to be made against me.”
Rudd says that the ABC was told of all these facts before publication.
“For these reasons, legal proceedings against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation have now commenced.”Image: Getty Images / Stefan Postles