NSW National Parks job cuts increase risk of bushfire tragedy

Friday 18th August 2017 0:00

FRIDAY 18 AUGUST 2017

Job losses in NSW Parks and Wildlife will leave the NSW National Park estate at greater risk of a bushfire tragedy, according to the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU).

AWU NSW State Secretary Daniel Walton today said the proposed restructure of NSW Parks and Wildlife would see 52 regions reduced down to 37 or 39.

“The job cuts mean that up to 15 senior field supervisors – which are effectively Divisional Commanders positions - will be axed, along with potentially dozens of other field officer positions.

“These jobs are filled by highly-experienced, professional parks staff, who make a vitally important contribution to both environmental management and fire safety.

“What’s more, the staff who are left will have significantly expanded areas to look after - so the limited resources of the department will be stretched even further.”

Mr Walton said the jobs cuts came a crucial time, with NSW facing an extremely dangerous fire risk this summer.

“Experts have already sounded the bushfire safety alarm, with conditions similar to those that preceded the catastrophic Blue Mountains fires in 2013.

“It is simply extraordinary that the NSW Government would be undermining fire safety in our National Parks just as we are entering such a dangerous bushfire season.”

Mr Walton also said the international reputation of NSW Field Officers as some of the best remote area firefighters in the world would suffer from the cutbacks.

“Governments around the world look to our Field Officers as experts in bushfire response, and they call on us in their time of need.

“Only this week, the NSW Government heralded the contribution of 100 specialist NSW firefighters who have gone overseas to help fight bushfires in Canada.

“Our willingness to help other countries is reciprocated when we need help at home, but we cannot take such international support for granted while we are reducing our own firefighting capacity.

“The NSW Government must reverse the cuts, and ensure that our precious National Parks estate is giving the best possible protection.”

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