Former Tasmanian Treasury secretary Don Challen to lead COVID-19 economic recovery council

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday May 1, 2020

Tasmanian Parliament House, Hobart. Adobe.

The Tasmanian government has established a Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council to help the state rebuild following the coronavirus pandemic.

Premier Peter Gutwein on Thursday said the council would advise the government on how to best mitigate the economic and social impacts of the pandemic, and would identify opportunities for “economic and social renewal”.

Don Challen

The council would be chaired by former public servant and businessperson Don Challen.

Challen was secretary of the state Department of Treasury and Finance from 1993 to 2010, and has since held various board roles across prominent Tasmanian businesses. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2013 for his significant work to economics and public administration in Tasmania in the treasury and finance sector.

Council members include Brand Tasmania director Kym Goodes, billionaire Dale Elphinstone, University of Tasmania’s vice chancellor Professor Rufus Black, Infrastructure Australia’s non executive director Samantha Hogg, Bank of Us chief executive Paul Ranson, Tourism Tasmania’s Audit Finance and Risk Committee chair Brett Torossi, Metro Tasmania chair Tim Gardner, and commissioner for children Leanne McLean.

In developing a roadmap to rebuild Tasmania, the council would make recommendations to identify immediate short term actions, as well as the medium and longer term issues to be addressed by government, the community, and the private sector to enable sustainable economic growth and mitigate the social impacts of the virus.

It would also target sectors where Tasmania could develop a competitive and brand advantage, identify opportunities and barriers to employment growth, and identify opportunities to address the impacts of COVID-19 on the community through sustainable social initiatives.

The council also hoped to enable Tasmanians to “take advantage of a different way of life and work and business, or to reinvent themselves in new and emerging industries”.

Gutwein said a secretariat would be established in the Treasury department, supported by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and State Growth.

The council would engage directly with industry and community groups, as well as members of parliament, who can provide submissions to inform the development of the council’s work.

Advice on immediate actions and initiatives would be given to the government by July 2020, with an interim report containing findings and recommendations to be delivered by September 2020 so it can inform the development of the 2020-21 Budget.

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