Ross McKinney - 13 February 2018
Ross McKinney addressed Council on the impact on Eurobodalla Shire Council of the continuing job losses within the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service at the Ordinary Council Meeting 13 February 2018.
Issue to be addressed
Loss of NSW National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) jobs resulting in long lasting serious negative impacts on social, economic and natural environment across the whole of the Eurobodalla Shire.
Details of the Issue
- The NPWS is being systematically dismantled.
- There has been over 200 jobs lost with more job losses imminent.
Within the Eurobodalla Shire area the job losses of highly experienced NPWS staff include:
- Administration and Clerical positions
- Fire Management Officers
- Remote Area Firefighters
- Incident Command Staff
- Geographical Information Officers
- Shorebird management officer
- Field Officers
- Pest Species Program Coordinators
- Feral animal Program Coordinators
Impact on Eurobodalla Shire Communities
- Families are forced to relocate to other areas of the State taking their income and savings with them.
- Decreased expenditure with the Region.
- Loss of expenditure within rural towns and villages resulting in some cases of businesses closing.
- Visitor facilities (scenic drives, walking tracks, picnic/camping areas) not being maintained to an acceptable standard affecting repeat visits to the Council Area resulting in loss of spend in rural communities
- Farmers increasing funding and efforts on weed and pest specie control in an attempt to maintain food production.
- Major increase to bush firefighting efforts resulting in loss of employee time to small businesses.
- Increase in efforts of an aging volunteer firefighting force to assist in bushfire events resulting in loss of time to food production and businesses.
- Reduced capability to help develop and support existing and new regional on-park tourism initiatives.
- Increased park use fees to offset the privatisation of commercial operations traditionally manged by NPWS
- Loss of social cohesion in the community.
- Less participation in educational, recreational activities, annual community events & volunteer assistance in communities.
- School class sizes decreased.
- Increase in illegal activities (illegal take and kill, commercial firewood cutting, vandalism to visitor facilities, illegal crop growing) resulting in an increasing reliance on NSW Police to assist lessening efforts by Police on more important illegal issues.
- Lack of staff to maintain roads, tracks and trails resulting in increased erosion into creeks and tributaries feeding rural drinking water supplies.
- Lack of staff to adequately maintain visitor facilities resulting increase waste materials.
The impacts associated with the on-going NPWS job losses through restructure after restructure are very similar to those identified by the NSW Ombudsman’s investigation into the Department of Land and Water Conservation (DLWC), which include: loss of staff numbers, expertise, skills and corporate knowledge, disruptions to systems and strategy and, a major loss of services to the NSW public.
The most disturbing conclusion that can be derived from the Ombudsman’s DLWC findings, and information Park Watch has received from serving NPWS officers, is that there is a systematic dismantling of yet another environment based organisation. In this case, it is the organisation charged with managing this state’s unique national park system; an organisation once considered one of the world’s top five conservation agencies.
The issue facing Eurobodalla Shire is whether it is prepared to allow these serious impacts to continue to be inflicted on their communities and businesses or demand a stop to these unnecessary actions.
Spokesperson on National Park Operations
0427 206 106
Who we are
Park Watch is comprised of a growing number of people who were formally employed as communications, media, ranger, field officer, manager, Aboriginal sites, administration and specialist officers with the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS). Several members of the group went on to senior positions in other Australian national park services and international conservation agencies.
Why was Park Watch formed?
NSW has experienced widespread land clearing since European settlement and our protected areas (PAs) represent most of what that remains of pre-European natural heritage and biodiversity in this state. The organisation charged with PA management in NSW (the
NPWS) was recognised as one of the top five PA conservation management agencies in the world by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1985. That standing has since been lost due to continual resourcing cutbacks which has been accelerated by the present NSW Coalition Government who is decimating the NPWS and by default, is severely compromising the integrity of the state’s PA system.
Our primary focus
Park Watch will be focused on enhancing the state’s PA system, by lobbying for improved resourcing for the organisation charged with its care and, opposing any government policies that impact on protected area integrity and management.
What we will do
- Provide effective opposition via all media platforms to any political party or organisation that advocates protected area downgrading, downsizing and/or de-gazettal (PADDD).
- Hold the government of the day accountable to the Sydney 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress promise of no protected area regression and, lobby for the expansion of the state’s PA system to include identified fauna/habitat corridors and under-represented geological and fauna/flora associated ecological communities.
- Lobby for increased NPWS resourcing (financial and human) to levels that significantly reduces staff/area ratios, increases existing staff numbers, improves infrastructure/facilities maintenance standards and reduces the impact of threatening influences on PAs. Support includes the management of PAs by professional, field based staff who are provided the means to undertake and implement proven science based management and are well trained, equipped and supported to enforce PA based legislation.
- Encourage the public use of PAs via minimal impact, sensible/practical access and recreational planning processes via comprehensive education, media and communication programs.
- Encourage commercial operations within PAs according to best practice, science based management frameworks, rather than political imperatives.
The Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, wrote to Council following your presentation and whilst they welcomed your input, they took the opportunity to clarify and expand on some of the matters you had raised. I am attaching a copy of their correspondence for your information.
Council understands that you are concerned with the demands placed on NPWS services including maintenance of infrastructure such as toilets, camping grounds, car parks, walks, beach access and picnic areas, especially with the increase in popularity of nature-based tourism. NPWS play an integral part in the sustainability and protection of our Eurobodalla environment and to this end, Council works with the agency in a cooperative and supportive role.
Council has been successful in obtaining a grant as part of the Australian Government’s Regional Jobs and Investment Packages program, to undertake a feasibility study to identify development projects and marketing opportunities. An important part of this project is to establish formal partnerships with NSW Government agencies such as NPWS, Forestry Commission NSW and Batemans Marine Park Authority to maximise opportunities for nature based tourism and recreation activities in the Eurobodalla Shire. Benefits will include:
- provision of infrastructure and services to meet the needs and expectation of visitors and to facilitate and support the growth of the visitor economy
- protection and preservation of the natural, historic, cultural and lifestyle assets of the south region and
- establishment of effective partnerships between all levels of government, the tourism sector, regional businesses and the South Coast community.
In this regard, Council look forward to working with NPWS, Forestry Commission NSW and Batemans Marine Park to encourage and facilitate development that will take our economy forward, be sustainable and deliver quality year-round products and experiences.