A fight has erupted over the privatisation of Housing Tasmania after Speaker Sue Hickey called for it to be "downsized" in an incorrect submission to a Parliamentary inquiry.
Ms Hickey's submission, which she asked to be withdrawn an hour after if was lodged with the inquiry, forced Premier Will Hodgman to defend Housing Tasmania staff and infuriated Labor and the public sector union.
In her last-minute submission to the inquiry on housing affordability, Ms Hickey, the member for Clark, said Housing Tasmania was "failing its clients", was "prejudiced" and had a culture of "compliance above humanity, compassion and solutions".
She fronted the hearing on Wednesday morning and said she was "mortified" at media reporting of the submission which was an early draft and been wrongly sent.
In a question from Labor member for Lyons Jen Butler, Ms Hickey denied she had been pressured to "tone down" her submission.
"Absolutely not," she said. "I toned it down to make it less directive.
"I don't want a whole lot of public servants fearing they are going to lose their jobs."
Premier Will Hodgman disagreed with Ms Hickey's comments about Housing Tasmania putting compliance over compassion but said it was important people put their views to parliamentary committees.
"It is certainly not our policy agenda to have all public housing off our books," he said.
"We need to respect those who work at the coal face and are doing a fantastic job and their very best to support Tasmanians in need."
Mr Hodgman said his government had a track record of engaging the non-government sector in housing and was open to new partnerships but Housing Tasmania had a responsibility to ensure "the safety and security of all our clients".
However, deputy Labor leader Michelle O'Byrne was quick to attack Ms Hickey saying her comments about Housing Tasmania workers were "unkind, abhorrent and not worthy of a member of Parliament".
"It is typical of a Liberal government to under resource a service, making it hard for people to do their job, then they criticise those staff and then they privatise it," Ms O'Byrnes said.
"It is time for Ms Hickey to decide if she is a member of the Liberal Party or the Speaker who does not have a public opinion.
"It is implausible that this submission did not have her fingerprints all over it."
As an MP for 20 years, Ms O'Byrne said she had always found Housing Tasmania staff helpful and accused Ms Hickey or trying to grab media attention.
A furious Community and Public Sector Union secretary Tom Lynch questioned who had made the incorrect submission on Ms Hickey's behalf.
"She is the Speaker of the House, how could it be submitted without her authority?" Mr Lynch asked.
"It is a failing of the government who have under-funded Housing Tasmania for five years. The overworked and under-resourced staff there deal with people who have complex needs and it is appalling that she is blaming them.
"if Housing Tasmania is privatised we will see less services and people battling mental health issues will be thrown to the bottom of a high pile of people waiting for a roof over their head."
In her evidence to the committee, Ms Hickey was critical of tenancy selection for Housing Tasmania properties.
"The tenancy selection is so bad that everybody's sinking to the lowest common denominator," she said.
"People are living in enormous fear and some are pressured to sell drugs to survive in their properties. Something has to change."
Greens leader Cassy O'Connor said it was unfair to "take a crack at Housing Tasmania" and asked where tenants who could not find a house should live.
Ms Hickey said tenants who sold drugs should be in jail.
She also said some Housing Tasmania staff had been "very rude and threatening" to tenants at a complex at Sandy Bay.
In the submission she has tried to withdraw, Ms Hickey said Housing Tasmania had "become remote and unconnected with their client base".
"Housing Tasmania appears to me to be an organisation failing its clients. The model may have worked 20 years ago, but in today's constricted and costly real estate market that is the new norm the current model does not work. In my opinion, the organisation needs to be completely restructured and downsized, as it does not deliver efficiently the services that it should provide.
"There are far too many boarded up houses that have not been repaired, and of course which cannot provide homes to those in need.
"Presently Tasmania's public housing system has failed the people that it was set up to support; has failed to deliver adequate housing in a timely fashion with good governance.
"From my perspective it has failed to have a culture of customers to be supported and helped, rather than tenants to be seen as nothing more than problem."