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Several hundred workers have
been laid off from South
Australian home insulation
companies after last Friday s
suspension of the Australian
Government s free insulation
Local Bradford insulation
supplier and installer CosyWrap
shed 20 of its 25 employees just
hours after the announcement that
rebates for insulation installed
under the Australian Government s
Energy Efficient Homes Package
had ceased immediately.
Two other similar businesses
nearby sacked another 50 workers.
CosyWrap s managing director
Peter Oag described the day as one
of the toughest in the company s
"At 2pm we heard it on the radio
and then we read about it online,
Mr Oag recalled.
"We rang the department and
they had no information, but it was
clear the rebate scheme had been
stopped with effect that day.
"We then spent three hours
ringing customers we had booked
in for installation, inspection or a
quote in the coming week and had
to cancel those appointments.
"That was half a million dollars
of work we put into suspension or
Mr Oag then had to make the
decision employers dread.
"There was no work, so we had to
let people go," he said.
"Salespeople, installers and office
workers -- the work had just stopped
so we couldn t give them any work.
"They were disappointed and
angry about the way it had been
"They ve got mortgages and
they ve got bills to pay -- it s quite
The company, along with other
Adelaide insulation outlets, is now
waiting for details of a replacement
scheme due to start in June.
But the language of government
reassurance has not worked on
those hit hard by the sudden
"The way we read their state-
ment is basically the government
saying 'we don t know what we are
doing ," he said.
"What started as a seemingly
sensible idea that generated
employment and economic stimu-
lus has turned into a nightmare."
Mr Oag estimated the job losses
across the local industry at "several
He also predicted problems ahead
for customers who used insulation
businesses that started up after the
scheme was introduced.
"In Adelaide local firms were
able to keep up with demand until
just after the end of December
2009," he said.
"At that stage new businesses,
mainly door knockers, started in
the market, but their operation and
their installers came mainly from
New South Wales.
"They have now gone, so any
customer seeking redress from
them, or an audit of the installation
by them will be ringing a mobile
number that doesn t answer
The failure of the insulation
rebate package dominated
federal parliament this week
with Environment Minister Peter
Garrett under fire from all sides.
But politics was of no interest to
the remaining and former staff at
"I bought this business in 1992
-- it started in 1970 -- and it s got a
good reputation in the building and
renovation industry," Mr Oag said.
"The scheme increased our
business markedly, but having it
chopped off like that was a killer.
"Now no-one knows what will
happen next," he said.
"We ve gone from flat out busy to
The Federal Government
announced a replacement scheme
the same day as the cancellation
of the ill-fated Energy Efficient
Details of the scheme due to start
in June are still being finalised,
but its announcement proposed
changes to the rebate and installa-
On Wednesday Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd announced an
assistance package for insulation
The government promised it will
provide businesses with assistance
to retain their workers between
now and June when the replace-
ment scheme -- the renewable
energy bonus program -- begins
At the time of going to print
Mr Oag s company still hadn t
heard officially of any assistance
and industry bodies had rejected
the proposed scheme saying it is
"poorly designed and will fail".
For Peter Oag, his company and
his former staff it s now a waiting
"We ve stopped -- simple as that."
manager Peter Oag and
Lucy Morris at CosyWrap s
Photo: Kate Elmes
Hit hard by policy change
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