Australian conversations: the insulation inspector’s assistant

An outcome of the tragedy of lives lost during the Federal Government’s insulation scheme is that “the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency is arranging the inspection of at least 150,000 homes that had non-foil ceiling insulation installed under the discontinued Home Insulation Program (HIP).”

That’s us. And it was our turn recently. The inspector and his assistant came and did their work, and I made small talk with the assistant while the inspector thumped around in the roof cavity above. He was an amiable and chatty Maori man in his forties, or thereabouts, but with a melancholy air about him.

JB: “Have you got many jobs down this way?”
The Inspector’s Assistant: “We’re flat out. We’ve flown over from Brisbane with our company. We’ll be here for about a month – only got here yesterday.”
JB: “Gee, that’s one way to see the country!”
The Inspector’s Assistant: “It’s better to come here, I’ve got nothin really to stay in Brisbane for. Lost my house in the floods.”
JB: “Oh, I’m sorry. Where abouts?”
The Inspector’s Assistant: “Yarrawonga, about 10 minutes out of Brisbane city. There was water everywhere. My Dad lost his toe because of an infection from the water. I had A Current Affair ringing up for interviews. I couldn’t believe that parents were lettin their kids swim in it, with all the sewage rising up.”
JB: “Gosh, that’s awful.  Where are you living now?”
The Inspector’s Assistant: “I’m staying with friends cos my house is a mess. But all the tradies are busy, you can’t get nothin done. So it’s better to be over here.”
JB: “I guess so. It must be so frustrating having to wait. I guess the tradies are all working flat out.”
The Inspector’s Assistant: “Yeah, it’s been a bad time. Because I lost my son last year too. That’s why I’m growing my hair, because I promised my son I wouldn’t cut my hair.”
JB: *Gulp* “Can I get you anything? A hot drink? Water?”
The Inspector’s Assistant: “Nah, I’m right, honest, we’ll be done in a minute – I just need a signature and we’ll be out of your hair.”


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