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Local Government - Environmental Health Officers

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Tags: Environment, State Budget, Local Government

Dr WOODRUFF - I have one more question. Minister, you would be aware of the important work of environmental health officers in keeping Tasmanians safe at the local municipal level. They are responsible for regulating about 10 pieces of legislation and they are the front line of food safety and environmental management. Our office has heard first hand how, particularly in rural regions, councils have been struggling with their responsibilities to adequately regulate pollution and food safety.

Professor Roger Hughes at UTAS has recommended that the workforce needs to be expanded by 25 full time equivalent staff across the state as a high priority. Are you aware of Professor Hughes' 2020 report? I have a copy here if you have not seen it. Have you taken actions to help recruit the additional staff that he has recommended? If you haven't read it, it's a very substantial document.

Mr JAENSCH - I have not read that report but I would be happy to get myself a copy of that and get across it. From my round tables with local government ministers around the country I know that skill shortages in some local government roles is a national issue. We're in discussion with the Commonwealth and the other states and territories on what might be evidence-based strategies nationally to address those issues.

There is a range of causes for that. As with any workforce development there is a lead time in generating a new skilled workforce. This is a live issue for us to consider in the local government reform process, what will be the roles of local government in the future, what they'll require to perform those roles and what arrangements for service delivery might best fit the needs of our communities and the size and shape of the workforce we have to deliver on. Again, I would be happy to review that report. It is a good candidate as an issue for consideration under the PESRAC reform process, should we end up with an agreement to proceed down that path. There are skill sets and roles of local government beyond those you have mentioned that would bear that sort of scrutiny or planning by one of them.

Dr WOODRUFF - Professor Hughes is reporting on stakeholder groups, it is not solo work, it is a big body of work and he has recommended the state Government align the remunerations and conditions of environmental health officers with a comparable allied health professional award. This would help provide training opportunities for the state for the future. Will you undertake to have a look at that particular aspect of it?

Mr JAENSCH - I am happy to get myself a copy of that report to consider.

CHAIR - Thanks Minister.