The CVCC has written to our local state member, Chris Gulaptis MP, and to the NSW Minister for the Environment, Gabrielle Upton MP, about our concerns.
Below is the body of our letter to the Minister for the Environment.
The Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition (CVCC) is very concerned about the NSW Government’s restructure of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). On this matter our concerns relate to the State as a whole as well as to our local area.
The CVCC notes that the restructure currently does not affect ranger positions but we understand that the restructure of that part of the Service will follow later in the year.
The planned changes we currently know about are of major concern.
In relation to the Grafton area, the CVCC is appalled at the scale of the losses and the downgrading of the local office.
· We understand that at least 9 full-time jobs will be lost from the local office as well as the loss of 3 senior field officers and one senior field supervisor.
Local fire-fighting capacity will be severely affected. Seven crew leaders (including two who are in their thirties and four who are competent divisional commanders) will be lost.
The number of pest management officers in the region will be cut from 3.2 full-time equivalents to one. That position will be paid less than the current incumbents and does not need a degree qualification. Bearing in mind that the North Coast is a biodiversity hotspot with a great diversity of weeds, this bureaucratic “rationalisation” simply does not make sense.
Changes in the local area will obviously have serious repercussions in relation to management of the National Parks estate in our region – a region which relies on these important natural areas to attract tourists as well as for all the benefits they provide to the local human population and local indigenous flora and fauna. Obviously with similar downgrading and what is quite obviously mindless cost-cutting all over the state, the serious repercussions are going to be felt state-wide.
When the state budget was brought down some months ago, there was a great deal of fanfare about how good the state economy was and what a wonderful surplus the government was producing. Yet here we have a policy of draconian slashing of an important environmental service – a service which aids in protecting the natural world as well as enhancing earnings in the tourist industry.
We are very alarmed, Minister, at your Government’s policies towards the natural environment and its management. This latest of a series of changes follows on from the weakening of land-clearing and biodiversity laws which have drastically eroded protections for the natural world. As a result there is an increasing conviction that your Government is not interested in environmental protection and is completely indifferent to the need to stem the tide of alarming biodiversity loss.
While our concerns in relation to the natural world and our local economy have been highlighted in this letter, we also have concerns about the effect of these far-reaching changes on the NPWS officers who are being “re-structured”. There will be job losses as well as salary slashing and what are in effect demotions.
It is indeed ironic that these appalling changes have been announced in the fiftieth year of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Is it some bean-counter’s sick idea of a joke?
The Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition urges you, as the Minister responsible for the NPWS (in its fiftieth year), to ensure that the Government abandons this restructure. What the NPWS needs is proper resourcing – something it has not had for years - not this travesty of a restructure that seems designed to ensure that Service fails.