The NSW Government is marking the 50th anniversary of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) with a massive restructure that will cut jobs and jeopardise public safety, the Public Service Association (PSA) says.
The PSA is holding rallies across the state today against the drastic cuts. Events will be held in Katoomba, Queanbeyan, Grafton, Griffith, and Wollongong.
The Berijiklian Government is overseeing the scrapping of 13 highly experienced Area Managers, who perform a critical role in bushfire and pest management.
In recent years, NPWS has downsized from 66 areas across NSW to just 37 under this restructure.
“These highly experienced officers are meant to preserve our flora and fauna and ultimately help protect the public but they now find themselves on the threatened species list – an appalling 50th birthday present,” said PSA General Secretary Stewart Little.
Pest Management Officers (PMO) are also being thrown on the jobs scrapheap in the shake-up.
PMO’s perform a critical role in the control of wild dogs, feral pigs, cats, goats, deer and invasive plant species and in so doing, ensure NSW meets its obligations under the Biosecurity Act.
“60 PMOs and Fire Management Officers (FMO’s) were introduced 20 years ago, but their numbers have been progressively slashed across the state, with the new structure containing just 8 PMO’s,” Mr Little said. “That’s 8 people to cover more than 7 million hectares.”
“The Nationals don’t care about land owners or they wouldn’t be cutting jobs that provide critical assistance to farmers such as the management of wild dogs and pigs.”
“The bushfire season has already started with devastating impact and and if these cuts go through, there simply will not be sufficient experienced staff to contain them.
“Tragically, the ramifications of these cuts will probably be tendered as evidence in the Coroner’s court in the coming years”.
“The skills of these people and several hundred years of combined experience are gained on the ground, not in a classroom, so what has been lost to date and what we are about to lose will take a lifetime to replace. Of course by then, it will be too late.”