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Pettit Contract: Liberals Skirt Around Circumstances of Non-Renewal

Andrea Dawkins

Andrea Dawkins  -  Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Tags: Education, NAPLAN


The middle of the school year is odd timing to take the Department of Education in a new direction while not renewing the secretary of the department's contract.  Do you agree that Colin Pettit has been a revered department secretary, overseeing Gonski reforms and improvement in NAPLAN results and a move to four-term years in the interests of education outcomes?  As Mr Pettit is highly regarded nationally and locally, on what grounds was he released from his contract?

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I have not even finished calling the Deputy Premier and there is an interjection from the member for Denison, Ms O'Connor.



Mr ROCKLIFF - Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question and reference to the Department of Education secretary, Mr Pettit.  Mr Pettit had a contract of employment which expired in February 2016.  It is a five-year contract and, as required under his instrument of appointment negotiated with the previous government, Mr Pettit was notified six months in advance that he would not be offered a consecutive appointment for another five years.  Subsequent to being informed that his contract would not be renewed, Mr Pettit exercised his right under the instrument of employment to terminate his employment. 

On behalf of the Government I thank Colin most sincerely for the dedication he demonstrated in the role since he commenced in February 2011.  During his time in Education, Colin implemented Edi - which I am sure all members are well informed on - a world-class data-sharing platform for all schools.  He also instigated the set-up of the Professional Learning Institute for all staff and oversaw the formation of TasTAFE and the newly formed Tasmanian Standard Assessment and Certification office, or TSAC.  Colin started the implementation of the extension of rural and regional high schools to years 11 and 12 and the review of the Education Act.

I am sure members will appreciate it is a vital time for Education in Tasmania and the Government has made a $1.44 billion investment and commitment to raising the educational standards of every young Tasmanian to give them the best possible opportunities for a bright future in Tasmania. 

Stephen Conway, the CEO of TasTAFE, has agreed to fill the role of acting secretary while a recruitment process is undertaken by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.  I place on record once again my thanks to Mr Pettit for the past four and a half years of tenure and the significant contribution he made.  I wish Mr Pettit the very best for future endeavours.

It is a great time in Education with a significant number of reforms we are implementing.  The years 11 to 12 reforms in rural and regional high schools are going exceptionally well and I am very pleased to engage with the principals across all those schools.  It was fantastic to be in Smithton the other day where we opened the new gymnasium there.  Mr Green and other members for Braddon were there and it was fantastic to see that new facility.  It is great to see such investment in our high schools.  I speak of Riverside and Latrobe and most of us have toured Latrobe High School in recent times.  I went to Latrobe High School myself for a year and a half and I noticed that not much had changed in terms of infrastructure. 

It is great to have that economic stimulus effect in the north with respect to revitalising our high school infrastructure.  The investment in the early years, teachers and in-school operations is so crucial, such as our new program, Learning and Families Together, next year for kindergarten to grade 2, literacy and numeracy engagement and parental engagement, which is terrific and I am really looking forward to that.

It is important to recognise when we invest in new infrastructure that we create a conducive learning environment for our students.  I am often pointed to what we can learn from Scandinavian countries.  People point to the early years, and investment and the importance of it, but also how crucial it is to invest in contemporary, modern learning school infrastructure.  That is exactly what this Government is doing.  I am very pleased to say that Education is heading in the right direction but also it is timely after five years that we also look for fresh leadership in the department.  I thank Mr Pettit once again for his excellent contribution.