26 Feb 2010

Garrett demoted over failed home insulation scheme

8:25 pm on 26 February 2010

Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett has been stripped of responsibility for the country's failed home insulation scheme.

Mr Garrett has been criticised for weeks over the government's home insulation programme which has been scrapped following a series of accidents, including the deaths of four installers, the ABC reports.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he is establishing a separate stand-alone department for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, headed by the Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

Mr Garrett will remain as Environment Minister, but his portfolio will focus on environmental protection as well as heritage and the arts.

Mr Rudd says the demotion is in recognition of the problems with the insulation scheme. "Let's not try and sugar coat this - this represents a reduced range of responsibilities."

Until now Mr Rudd has rejected opposition demands to sack Mr Garrett and had even called him a first class minister.

But on Friday he reshuffled his ministry, giving the responsibility for running the new insulation scheme to Greg Combet, whom he says will be working to address the new problems that have been identified in the old scheme.