Deputy Premier John Barilaro is trying to erode the status of NSW’s National Parks under the guise of bushfire prevention, says the Public Service Association.
Stewart Little, general secretary of the PSA, said as part fo the Berejiklian government, the deputy premier had overseen a 35 percent loss of NPWS’s fire-trained staff, which significantly impacted on the ability of rangers to prepare and respond to bushfires.
“It is the Nationals who hold the purse strings – rather than funding the NPWS properly so that they can undertake strategic reductions they have crippled them with massive budget cuts and devastating restructures,” said Mr Little.
“This Black Summer we saw the consequence of staffing cuts and a lack of investment in our bushfire preparedness.
“NSW will face another Black Summer, climate change guarantees this. That is why we need to reverse a decade worth of cuts across our bushfire fighting agencies, including the Rural Fire Service, National Parks and Wildlife Services and Forestry Corp.”
The PSA is calling on the government to end its over reliance on volunteers to manage hazard reduction, and to properly fund bushfire preparation work.
“We are calling on the government to urgently invest in 1000 permanent firefighting staff to begin preparing NSW for future bushfire risks.
“These would be paid, secure regional jobs which would keep communities safe. If the deputy premier is serious about keeping regional NSW safe he would be demanding permanent firefighting skilled staff, rather than trying to put more responsibility onto famers and private landowners.”