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Page added on February 11, 2010

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Garrett under fire as solar row heats up

FINANCE Minister Lindsay Tanner has blamed the former Howard government for an $850 million blow-out in the cost of a household solar power program, arguing the problem began when his predecessors decided to offer generous $8000 rebates for rooftop panels.

Mr Tanner made the claim as Environment Minister Peter Garrett came under intense pressure over claims he failed to respond to warnings in March last year about the risk of poor work practices under the government’s $4 billion home energy efficiency program, which has been linked to the deaths of four insulation installers The Australian Financial Review reports.

Mr Garrett announced the government would pay for electrical safety inspections to ensure 37,000 houses fitted with foil insulation under the program were not “live” – meaning anyone touching a metal fixture, such as a tap, could be at risk of electrocution.

An audit has already estimated that about 2 per cent of those houses – or 740 homes – may be live because of faulty installation.

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