Water regulation set adrift as State Government cuts Office of Water jobs
The NSW Government has announced a ‘change management plan’ that will slash 10% of specialist staff responsible for implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and managing the state’s groundwater resources, according to the Public Service Association of NSW.
The NSW Office of Water told staff last week it would cut 50 jobs, while creating a new layer of management that includes three additional Deputy Commissioners.
Regional positions will be among those abolished, including staff from Dubbo, Wagga, Bega, Armidale and Murwillumbah.
“The job cuts at the Office of Water are the start of a flood of 10,000 public service positions being cut by the NSW Government,” Assistant Secretary Steve Turner said today.
“Staff cuts in this area are incongruous when you consider a substantial source of funding for the Office of Water is from IPART-determined water management charges placed on irrigators.
“Next financial year, those IPART charges will increase by about 10% and millions of dollars of federal funding will pour into the Office – but where will it all go?
“IPART approved the increase based on the increasing complexity of water management but it seems these extra resources will be symphoned off from staff providing service to the community.
“The employees targeted at the Office of Water are highly skilled scientists, planners and policy experts, working on vital water management issues. About 10 staff members involved with licensing and compliance will be lost, the majority involved in customer service and business support roles.
“They are at the frontline of working with farmers and irrigators on implementing the Murray-Darling Basin plan; and assessing the impact of the growing coal and coal seam gas industry on groundwater resources. This essential work is now at risk.
“Meanwhile, an extra new layer of management, that includes three additional Deputy Commissioners will be introduced, creating a top-heavy structure with less resources for on-ground and community work.
“This restructure will further burden an under-resourced portfolio that is already under immense pressure to meet vital commitments to NSW water management and engage effectively with stakeholders on water sharing,” Mr Turner said.