Mental health concern when debates name public servants

·2-min read

Tasmania's premier has asked for a review of rules surrounding parliamentary debate after airing concerns that naming public servants could impact their mental health.

Jeremy Rockliff on Tuesday told state parliament he had received a letter from anti-discrimination commissioner Sarah Bolt.

He said the letter outlined "disturbing" concerns around the detrimental psychological impact on public servants who had been named in debates.

The letter suggested public servants be referred to by their professional title.

Mr Rockliff said he would write to the Speaker to request a broad review into parliament's standing orders because he had a responsibility to ensure a safe workplace.

Labor leader Rebecca White and Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff accused the premier of creating a distraction amid criticism of plans for a new $715 million stadium in Hobart.

They also said a ban on naming public servants would interfere with parliamentary privilege, in which politicians can speak with legal immunity.

"We have to have privilege ... to allow us to identify issues of wrongdoing, potential corruption and to call them out without fear of retribution," Ms White said.

"It is one of the fundamental tenets of democracy."

The performance of departments and regulators in the racing industry has recently been under the microscope in parliament amid allegations of race fixing and animal cruelty.

A joint parliamentary committee that includes Mr Rockliff is examining parliamentary workplace culture.

A 2022 review by Ms Bolt found two-thirds of parliamentary and ministerial staff had witnessed discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying in the workplace.

Ms White and Greens leader Cassy O'Connor, who was kicked out of parliament for an hour for interjecting, accused the premier of breaching committee rules.

"He used the processes of parliament to try to run cover for senior public servants who have been named in parliamentary debate because of legitimate questions about their performance, on the public purse," Ms O'Connor said in a statement.

"Senior, highly paid public servants cannot be beyond accountability. They cannot be a protected species."

Tasmania was last week granted a licence for a team in the AFL after federal funding was secured for a stadium which critics have labelled a waste of money during a housing and health crisis.

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