Compensation over pink batts

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has asked for options on compensation for the deaths of four young men working under the home insulation scheme.

Mr Abbott on Tuesday unveiled the government’s initial response to the royal commission into the Labor scheme.

He told parliament he has asked the environment and finance ministers to provide “options to compensate” the workers’ next of kin.

“Matthew Fuller, Rueben Barnes, Mitchell Sweeney and Marcus Wilson went to work and tragically they did never return home and the report makes it clear that their deaths would have been avoided had things been done differently,” Mr Abbott said.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz will examine workplace health and safety laws and the specific issue of safety in roof cavities will be raised at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on October 10.

“Government won’t walk away, government accepts responsibility and will do its best to make amends,” Mr Abbott said.

Compensation options for pre-existing home insulation businesses who “trusted government and were let down” would also be developed.

Mr Abbott stressed the government’s response was not a witch hunt, but the program had been a tragic bureaucratic, workplace and political failure.

“All of us should learn from this failure,” he said.

“Even urgent action needs to be prudent, cautious and wise.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said his thoughts were with the families and friends of those who had died.

“I’ve never seen people receive compensation who wouldn’t rather they could turn back the clock,” he said.

“Every death in the workplace is a tragedy.”

Labor’s attitude was that anything that improved workplace safety was worthwhile.

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