Kevin Rudd: Ex-PM sues Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Kevin Rudd Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kevin Rudd says he has commenced legal action

Former Australian leader Kevin Rudd has launched legal action against the country's main public broadcaster over a report he says is "a lie".

On Tuesday, the Australian Broadcasting Corp said that Mr Rudd had been warned while prime minister about risks relating to a home insulation scheme.

The deaths of four men under the scheme led to an inquiry in 2014. It made no adverse findings against Mr Rudd.

The ABC has defended its report, which followed a high-profile file discovery.

The broadcaster has used confidential Cabinet documents, found in a second-hand shop, to publish a series of exclusives this week about recent governments.

One said Mr Rudd and government ministers Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and Lindsay Tanner had been warned of "critical risks" about the insulation programme in 2009.

Cabinet papers did not specify whether these were safety concerns, the ABC said.

In announcing his legal action, Mr Rudd said the risks referred to in the Cabinet documents were financial and administrative matters - not safety risks.

He said those documents had already been examined by a royal commission inquiry.

"The Royal Commission concluded that there was no finding to made against me, and in fact that while serving as Prime Minister 'there was no warning given of the very many problems with the program' (p.271 of the final report)," he said in a statement on Thursday.

ABC news director Gaven Morris said the broadcaster "stands by the reporting we've done".

The insulation scheme was introduced by Mr Rudd's government in 2009 as part of a larger plan to stimulate the economy in response to the global financial crisis. It was discontinued in 2010.

The royal commission found the scheme's poor design and implementation directly contributed to the deaths of four young workers from electrocution and hyperthermia in separate incidents.

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