At least 350 environment jobs axed
THE State Government will axe at least 350 environment jobs, sparking claims the state’s national parks will be left at the mercy of weeds, hunters and illegal loggers.
Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, today (Tuesday) announced “sweeping reforms” to the Office of Environment and Heritage which she says will save about $100 million over the next four years.
The reforms involve getting rid of at least 350 jobs.
“Changes will include reducing senior area managers within the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) from 66 to 50,” Ms Parker says in a statement.
The Opposition says the plans will have a severe impact on national parks which are already struggling to contain weeds and illegal logging.
There is already a shortage of inspectors to safeguard against illegal logging activity, says Opposition environment spokesman Luke Foley.
“These cuts will have a severe and dramatic impact,” he’s told journalists in Sydney.
“There is an explosion of weeds in our national parks. There will shortly be an explosion of amateur hunters . . . and there will be less national park staff on the ground to deal with the consequences of that.”
Ms Parker says the savings will allow the government to focus on park management activities such as pest and weed eradication.
Assistant General Secretary of the Public Service Association, Steve Turner, says the plans, which will cut regional park managers by approximately 20 per cent, will see local fauna and area knowledge disappear.
“The government keeps saying they won’t cut frontline services and yet here you’ve cut the people who look after national parks, make sure those parks are safe . . . and help prevent forest fires,” he says.
“This government is refusing to meet and refusing to give proper details of its plans.”
The latest round of cuts come after about 80 jobs were culled from environment and heritage in 2011-12, Ms Parker says.