Labor question reveals discrepancy in Berejiklian government figures on fire-trained rangers – Daily Telegraph 13/11/19
The state opposition has questioned the Berejiklian government’s claim that the number of fire-trained staff in the National Parks and Wildlife Service stands at 1226 when figures show there were just over 1000 only four months ago.
As of 1 July, there were 1044 staff qualified for firefighting duties within the agency, according to answers from the government in response to a question on notice from Labor’s environment spokeswoman Kate Washington.
The discrepancy was revealed after the Public Service Association claimed the Coalition had slashed the number of fire-trained National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers from 289 in 2011 to 193 in 2018.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian denied the number of NPWS rangers had been trimmed by 35 per cent during an interview on ABC radio on Tuesday.
But she dodged specific questions concerning a reduction in rangers when pressed on the issue in Question Time, instead talking up the increase in agency staff generally.
“I’m pleased to confirm we have more NPWS staff today than we have in 2011, and a far greater proportion are on the frontline,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We have more full-time field officers which are frontline service roles than in 2011 and since 2011 the NSW government has increased the number of firefighters in NPWS from 1050 to 1226.”
Ms Washington pointed out the answer she received to her question on notice 48 days ago was “different to the figure being told to the media today”.
“It was 1044 staff 48 days ago in September and yet today you’re saying its 1266,” she said.
“One figure makes it look like you’ve increased staff since 2011 and the other tells the truth which is you have decreased staff.”
“Rangers have come to me and they have confirmed these cuts are real. The community deserves to know the truth, but with this Premier, it’s all smoke and mirrors.”