THE Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery report was set up to end badly and its recommendation to privatise TAFE is “the wrong policy, process and outcome”, two former senior Liberal Party advisors say.
The comments from ex-Liberal staffers Brad Nowland and Brad Stansfield this month throw shade over the Government’s controversial decision to endorse the PESRAC report.
Speaking on their public relations company podcast the pair slammed the Government for supporting the report’s call for TAFE privatisation – a plan which has been met with significant community unrest since its announcement.
“Everything about this has been an absolute debacle,” Mr Nowland said referring to the proposed TAFE restructure.
“The point is, they had some chats with a few business groups and a Surveymonkey was sent out. But that’s not consultation.
“They haven’t engaged with the experts in the field – their workforce, which is an absolute tragedy, because these are the people who would have to implement the changes and they haven’t actually had a say in the process.”
Mr Nowland’s comments come after TAFE teachers and key education sector leaders found out about the Government’s TAFE privatisation plan via a parliamentary announcement.
“You’ve actually got to consult with the people who know what they’re talking about,” Mr Nowland said.
“Here’s a radical idea: Instead of the proposed industrial relations changes, and looking after particular stakeholder groups, why don’t they actually put the students at the centre of this and make it about them.
“Because they’ve been missed out in all this and they will be caught in the crossfire.”
Mr Stansfield said “you don’t announce something politically risky like this” in an election year.
“It’s a very courageous decision,” he said.
“I think the Labor Party must have been pinching themselves that this was actually happening when the Premier announced it.”
The former Chief of Staff to past Premier Will Hodgman lashed the process in which the PESRAC report was formed.
“Outsourcing policy to an un-elected group is never a good idea. It always ends badly,” Mr Stansfield said.
“Now you’ve got the Government agreeing to more than 52 policies of varying quality.
“There has been this claim made by PESRAC and echoed by the Government that they consulted it widely – the biggest consultation process in Tasmania’s history, [gathering information from] 3500 people.
“I had a quick look through the detail of this, and I would not call an opt-in survey – overwhelmingly weighted to Hobart as the document outlines – as being a wide consultation.
“Perhaps that explains why we have some of the policies we’ve got at the end of it.”
Mr Nowland said he expected the State Government to “gradually and painfully” crabwalk back on its TAFE privatisation plan ahead of the upcoming State Election.