Tag Archives: insulation scheme

Still Losing Money On Pink Batts Rorts

17 Feb

Now it’s official.

Some 445 “companies” have succeeded in ripping off the government – that is, taxpayers – to the tune of nearly $14 million.

How?

Simply by shutting down while still owing debts to the government under the GFC “stimulus” pink batts home insulation scheme:

THE Government has written off nearly $14 million owed by companies believed to have wrongly claimed subsidies under the failed home insulation program, a senate estimates hearing has heard.

And it has decided to reverse $10.2 million in “potential debt”, deciding it may have been owed the money but it would have difficulty proving and collecting it.

The botched scheme was plagued by dodgey practices and was linked to the deaths of four installers and 224 house fires.

Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Department deputy secretary Subho Banerjee told the hearing that 671 debts from 516 installers totalling $6.69 million was still owed to it, but even that might not be recovered.

“The experience in these debt recovery operations across the Commonwealth is that the expected recovery rates are generally very low,” Dr Banerjee said.

“That’s our advice in this case as well.”

He said $1.89 million had been recovered.

But the hearing heard $13.77 million of debts were written off – seven because companies were declared bankrupt, one because of death, 445 because the companies ceased operating and 35 deemed “uneconomical to pursue”.

Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham asked what lengths the Government had gone to to chase down those 445 cases.

“Or was it just the case that people managed to set up companies, fleece the taxpayer of $13.7 million and then close down their companies and get away with it?” he said.

Remember this, should you ever have the tax man breathing down your neck for a miserable few hundred or thousand bucks.

Disabled, Pensioners Aerially Rorted By Govt Contractors

11 Apr

Dodgy contractors and respected industry name companies are once again taking advantage of an ill-conceived and badly implemented Labor Government scheme, with the now-familiar result of taxpayers being rorted, along with vulnerable Australians that the scheme was supposed to assist.

Sources within the antenna industry* report that government contractors are taking advantage of loopholes in the Household Assistance Scheme to qualify for increased government payments, by fraudulently claiming costs for employment of out-of-area workers to conduct installations.

It is alleged that contractors are also taking advantage of insider foreknowledge of the digital TV rollout, by deliberately installing low cost, sub-optimal antennas that are likely to require more costly replacements within 2 years, at the expense of pensioner and disabled recipients of the government scheme.

These reports appear to bear out the warning given by Master Electricians Australia in May 2011, that Labor’s pensioner set-top box scheme would attract unscrupulous contractors:

Master Electricians Australia yesterday said the Household Assistance Scheme, which received $308 million in Tuesday’s budget, threatened to attract ”shonks and shysters chasing a quick buck”, as seen in the disastrous insulation program.

Under the scheme, the government will pay for the installation and supply of digital set-top boxes for pensioners and, where necessary, install antennas to receive digital TV.

Over the past year, the scheme has attracted widespread criticism for poor planning, mismanagement, and cost blowouts:

EVERY set-top box delivered under Labor’s digital TV rollout could be costing the taxpayer an average of $698 — almost double the government’s original estimate, more than 30 times the cost of a box bought at a department store and far more expensive than a new 106cm flatscreen TV.

The scheme, which was initially funded with $69.5 million in the 2009-10 federal budget before receiving a further $309m last year, is aimed at pensioners and the disabled, who the government says are unable to buy and install their own set-top boxes to receive digital TV signals.

Industry sources say that contractors are maximising profits (thus cost to taxpayers) by many different “lurks”, such as offering to install brand new antennas and cabling for customers who already have suitable products installed. In a damning indictment of what appears to be a growing attitude of perceived “entitlement” in our society, it is reported that many pensioners have been only too happy to go along with this rort, with some expressing the view that “It is a government program for pensioners, so if other pensioners are getting one, then it is my right to get a new aerial too”.

Most concerning are reports that contractors are deliberately installing low cost single band antennas in some regions in order to maximise initial profits from the Government, and pave the way for further profits in future. Sources say that some contractors are taking advantage of industry insider knowledge that once the digital TV rollout is completed, “stacking” of channels in regions such as Wollongong will likely result in these cheap single band antennas becoming unsuitable, requiring pensioners to pay for installation of new and more costly multiband antennas at their own expense.

* Your humble blogger has been informed of these rorts by a childhood friend who owns and operates a one-man antenna installation business in the Newcastle region, and is in daily contact with wholesale parts suppliers to regions across Australia.

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