Members would be aware of the NSW Government announcements on Thursday 2 April creating the Department of Regional NSW and the subsequent movement of staff again via Administration Orders and Machinery of Government changes (MOG). For some staff this will be fourth or fifth such move in the past 18 months. Each and every one of those movements was designed to provide better public services but there has been no transparent review on how this was done.
What changes & why now?
Those agencies under the coverage of Deputy Secretary Gary Barnes will be picked up and dropped into DRNSW. That includes the Department of Primary Industries, Local land Services, Resources and Geoscience, Regional NSW Group, Regional Growth & Development Corporation, Cross-border Commissioner, Drought Response, Regional Youth, Co-ordinator General and the NSW Resources Regulator.
It is interesting to note the urgency required to administer DR NSW considering the drought has lasted since 2018 and the bushfires having been devastating regional communities since August last year. A cynical reasoning might include political machinations rather than service delivery priorities.
With respect to Corporate Services staff, who stays and who goes?
Corporate Services staff have just come together and now some will be flagged to move to DRNSW. DPIE has an obligation to consult on the changes in work practice that immediately are not being met.
But I’m not in regions?
In the end, this is the decision of Government on how it intends to ‘cut the pie’ on the Ministerial overview. However, the irony isn’t lost when employees representing Regional NSW will be administering activities such as Fisheries compliance on Sydney Harbour or Botany Bay.
Your representation will not change. However, there will always be internal discussions on how to best represent members. The PSA will embark on a process to bolster those on the ground resources with the assistance of the membership.
A mandate – now do something
From the announcement of Government and reports in the newspapers this morning, it is clear the Deputy Premier has a mandate to administer regional public services outside of Justice, Health, Education, Water and Roads. The PSA says it’s now time to stop the merry-go-round and focus on the delivery of service to those communities that have been most affected by the series of disasters.
This is done by providing:
- well-resourced land/resource management and regulatory agencies
- up-to-date and well-thought-out Legislative reforms
- employment of ongoing public servants in secure roles
- a commitment to funding programs so that agencies aren’t constantly putting their hands out (begging) for grant funding as consolidated revenue plummets
- a commitment to, and delivering on past election promises
- a commitment to work with and assist those struggling agricultural industries that are working tirelessly to put food on the table of the people
- a commitment the Government’s own ideological funding cuts to agencies dressed up as efficiency dividends are ceased.
Maintaining good public services are at the heart of strong and resilient regional communities. That’s how the Government will help regional NSW grow and prosper.
It’s now up to the Deputy Premier to administer his prescription for regional communities as DR NSW.
Know someone who’s not a member? In these times it is vital your workplace is united and strong, ask them to join today at www.psa.asn.au.