Factcheck: Is there really a green conspiracy to stop bushfire hazard reduction? – The Guardian 12/11/19
Firefighters are trying to contain dozens of fires across two states, but a familiar blame game has already begun
What about cuts to staff?
The Public Service Association has also attacked the NSW government for what it said was a “35% cut to fire-trained positions” in national parks.
Its acting general secretary, Troy Wright, said on Tuesday: “It is the Nationals who hold the purse string. Rather than funding the NPWS properly so that they can undertake strategic reductions they have crippled them with massive budget cuts and devastating restructures.”
The NSW environment minister, Matt Kean, told Guardian Australia that NPWS had 1,665 full time equivalent staff, a rise of 144 since 2017. Since 2011, Kean said the NSW government had increased the number of NPWS firefighters from 1,050 to 1,226.
Some 400 NPWS staff were out fighting fires. He says: “They are risking their lives to keep the community safe. Many are fighting fires that are not on park, but to protect people and property.”
He says NPWS undertakes 75% of all hazard reduction in the state, adding that last season, NPWS undertook 137,500 hectares of prescribed burns, which was above its target of 135,000 hectares.