school bench with copybooks and stationery

Minister calls it quits – Back to school for 1400 local students

CONTROVERSIAL Tasmanian politician Sarah Courtney has quit Parliament.

After eight years as a Bass MP and most recently Education Minister, Ms Courtney courted controversy when she took a three-week holiday in France leading up to the return of the school year.

While in Europe Ms Courtney contracted Covid and failed to get back to Tasmania in time for the school year start, leaving Acting Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff juggling responsibility for Health and Education.

The Opposition and Greens accused Premier Peter Gutwein of failing the leadership test by allowing Ms Courtney to leave at a time when teachers, parents and students were anxious about the new school year given the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid.

Ms Courtney returned last Thursday and immediately resigned.

“When I was on leave it gave me the opportunity to properly consider the question of what future is personally right for me and my family, and I made a decision,’’ Ms Courtney said.

“It has not been an easy decision. This is a role in which I have been truly honoured and humbled to serve in.

“However, the turning points in my life have taught me to be brave and true to myself and I know in my heart that it is the right time for me to move on.’’

Ms Courtney was Health Minister when Covid first hit.

As the Member for Bass, Ms Courtney took on the role of taking the Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation through the House of Assembly.

She also hit the headlines when she formed a personal relationship with the head of her department.

The Integrity Commission cleared her of any wrong doing and they have since married. A recount will take place in Bass to replace her.

Mr Gutwein said he would decide on his new Cabinet this week.

Meanwhile, about 1400 Derwent Valley and Central Highlands-based students returned to school last Wednesday.

The Education Department said 98.9 per cent of teaching staff had shown evidence they were fully vaccinated.

Nearly 1700 individuals are registered to work as relief teachers in Tasmanian Government schools including 952 in the South of the state.