"No, you're not," I replied, "and none of your business."
These people have a verbal foot-in-the-door technique. "We are authorised to check your ceiling," he insisted.
"No, you're not," I replied, warming to the conversation. "But I'm authorised to throw you off the property."
The next one tried a similar technique. "The government has to put insulation in your ceiling," he informed me, "otherwise global warming will cause the earth to overheat." That bizarre non sequitur is verbatim. I am not making it up.
This second one had appeared at the door in about October last year when hysteria was at its highest point just prior to the Copenhagen bureaucratic jet-fest.
My friend Theo, gullible and nice man that he is, had assented to a ceiling inspection when approached by one of these 'tradesmen'.
"Sure," he had said. "There's the manhole," taking the man to the bathroom and pointing to the ceiling.
"Do you have a ladder I could borrow?" the man asked, straightfaced.
$2.45 billion of taxpayer money and 93 housefires later, the Environment Department admitted insulating ceilings was a dangerous job:
(Environment Department secretary Robyn Kruk) said the installation of insulation was inherently dangerous, and that even before the government's free insulation scheme, many house fires had been linked to poorly fitted insulation.So why would you throw $2.45 billion dollars of 'free' taxpayer money at unqualified tradesmen to fit dangerous or sub-standard insulation to millions of houses? Well, you wouldn't of course. Only a bureaucrat would consider such folly.
Worse, the department itself had advice that warned of dangers:
The advice, which cost taxpayers $29,000, warned of serious risks including house fires and fraud.And ceiling tradesmen who don't own ladders. But did the department pass on $29,000 worth of warning to the Minister, Midnight Oil rock singer Peter Garrett, or leave it in some dusty filing cabinet? They left it in some dusty filing cabinet, of course.
"I don't think there's anything untoward about the minister not having seen the risk assessment," (Robyn Kruk) said.