Regional communities will be left exposed following the loss of 350 jobs from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), including 150 rangers and staff in frontline roles.
PSA General Secretary John Cahill says the 1.5% budget cut across government departments will hit OEH hard, with rangers, scientists and experienced staff responsible for land clearing monitoring, fire fighting and pest control all facing the axe.
“The NSW Government has cut positions of the state’s most experienced managers, rangers and frontline national parks staff, while opening the door for vested interest groups and commercialisation of our parks,” Mr Cahill said today.
“Improved service and accountability will not be achieved by losing specialist, experienced staff from our national parks and OEH. You can’t get any closer to the frontline than staff winched out of helicopters to fight fires in remote areas when disaster strikes.
“Area managers are already stretched with the responsibility for managing large areas of high conservation value and wilderness areas on a tight budget.
“Many of our national parks area managers have come up through the ranks as rangers, with knowledge of the local environment that is second to none.
“A slash in their numbers and budget will seriously impact effective natural resource management and risks leaving the state short when bushfire and disasters hit our parks.
“NSW has not had a big fire in years, but the reality is these job cuts announced today leaves our state exposed when the next serious bushfire incident occurs.
“Park managers and staff play a hands-on role in preparing for fire in national parks and are a vital part of the state’s frontline response when bushfire and wildfire threaten the environment, adjacent landholders and homes.
“They are often called upon to coordinate critical incident responses, deploying resources and inputting local knowledge of land, natural history and community for better strategies.
“In fact, the fire response expertise of our national park staff is so highly regarded that we have been training and advising authorities in Canada, US and Europe.
“The NSW Public Service Association calls on the State Government to meet with staff and discuss ways of making budget cuts without jeopardising 350 vital frontline jobs,” Mr Cahill said.