New Minister, new opportunities?

So the dust is settling, Tasmania has a new parliament, a new government, a new Education Minister, and the largest cross-bench in the history of our state’s parliament.

So here’s our AEU election update about what exactly just happened, the challenges ahead, our game plan, and (most importantly) what AEU members achieved by taking action together.

First, pop quiz: which Tasmanian Government agency has the most Ministers responsible for it? 

  • A) 🧑‍🏫 Education, Children and Young People
  • B) 🏞️ Natural Resources and Environment
  • C) 🧑‍🚒 Police, Fire and Emergency Management

(Read to the end for the answer)

Jo Palmer has succeeded Roger Jaensch as Minister for Education.
Jaensch is staying on as Minister for Children and Youth, Community Services and Aboriginal Affairs. This marks the first time responsibility for DECYP has been divided between two ministers.

Sarah Lovell has been appointed Labor’s new Shadow Education Minister. We congratulate Sarah on her new role and look forward to working with her to put public education on parliament’s agenda.

We met with both Jo and Sarah last week to talk about the issues that matter to us as a union of educators, for educators. We look forward to further discussions in the lead up to the 2024-25 State Budget – the first big test of the new government and parliament to deliver real action public education.

For years on-end, educators and families have been forced to contend with an Education Minister who made himself inaccessible to Tasmanians and unwilling to meet with educators.

We’ll work with anyone serious about taking action to fix public education funding, delivering a plan to address workforce shortages, improve conditions, and invest in quality careers for Tasmanian educators.

We hope the new minister will fight for Tasmanians in Canberra (and in Cabinet) to deliver 100% SRS funding for public schools and close the Tasmanian Government’s accounting loophole artificially inflating their funding share. Will she be up to the task?

The clock is ticking. NSW, WA and the NT recently new bilateral agreements that will see 100% funding before 2028. That means Tasmania now risks being last to the table and triggering an educator exodus from public schools, the state, or the profession.

That’s where we come in. 👇

Together, we set out to put public education on the ballot this election by calling on all 167 candidates to commit to using their vote to put public education first. 

We asked each and every one of them to sign our pledge, committing to use their vote to back key education policies if elected. We put a spotlight on those candidates, so that Tasmanians could see how they could use their vote to make the biggest impact.

So… how did we do?

Tasmania now has a bigger crossbench than ever, and nine of those eleven MPs committed to support our pledge – just over 80%. 

Four key crossbenchers – Miriam Beswick (Braddon)Craig Garland (Braddon),David O’Byrne(Franklin), and Kristie Johnston (Clark) signed the pledge.

Also backing the pledge: Labor’s expanded party room, as well as all five members of the Greens, who experienced a respectable #Greenslide with the election of Rosalie Woodruff (Franklin), Vica Bailey (Clark), Helen Burnet (Clark), Cecily Rosol (Bass) and Tabatha Badger (Lyons).

Moving forward, the Rockliff Government will have to negotiate with at least four members of the crossbench to pass bills. That means they have the power to withhold their vote in exchange for action – it’ll be up to us to make sure they do.

That’s huge – and it wouldn’t have been possible without the AEU members who picked up the phone, attended meetings with candidates to make sure candidates heard the facts about the state of our schools, and voted for candidates willing to put public education first.

We know it will be up to us to hold newly elected MPs to their commitments, but by taking actions we succeeded in putting public education on the agenda and opening the door for a more transparent, accountable parliament.

Just as important as a strong cross-bench and opposition to hold the Government to their promises is Tasmania’s strong Upper House.

With Josh Willie and Jane Howlett moving to the House of Assembly, on Saturday voters went to the polls again in ProsserElwick and Hobart.

At current count, it looks like former Greens leader Cassy O’Connor is set to replace retiring MLC Rob Valentine as Member for Hobart. Cassy was proud to support the pledge. 

Kerry Vincent, Mayor of Sorrell, is set to become Liberal Member for Prosser. Neither Vincent or his opponent, Bryan Green, signed the pledge.  

Former Glenorchy mayor Bec Thomas (Ind), who did not support the pledge, is currently leading in a tight race for the seat of Elwick against Labor’s Tess McLaughlin, who did!

We’ll update the below graphic as the results continue to come in, but this is where that leaves our Legislative Council today:

While we’re at it, let’s acknowledge four current or former AEU members who put up their hands this election:

  • Josh Willie MLC (ALP – Clark)
  • Simon Bailey (ALP – Franklin)
  • Kaspar Deane (ALP – Franklin)
  • Sarah Quaile (LIB – Bass)

Congratulations to Josh, who was re-elected as Member for Clark. We look forward to working with Josh and Sarah to keep public education on this parliament’s agenda. 

In addition to our meetings with the Minister and Shadow, we hope to meet with crossbench MPs soon to discuss how we make addressing the teacher shortage crisis, securing 100% SRS funding for our schools, supporting educator safety and wellbeing, and protecting TasTAFE from privatisation, key agenda items for this year’s parliamentary agenda and the 2024-25 State Budget. 

Follow us on FacebookInstagram and at to sign up for campaign updates and see where Tasmania’s new parliament stands on public education.

(Quiz Answer: the Department for Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania has the most Ministers, at four. Good luck trying to figure out where the buck stops!).

Australian Education Union - Tasmanian Branch
Australian Education Union – Tasmanian Branch
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