Staff restructure to hurt park operations denied

Dr Mehreen Faruqi in the Georges River National Park.

Story appeared in: Torch | February 14th, 2018

CLAIMS by the Greens that a staffing restructure will result in fewer rangers, less maintenance, and more choking weeds within the George River National Park, have been rejected by the Office of Environment and Heritage.
Greens Upper House MP and spokesperson for the Environment, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has warned the NSW Government restructure of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will squeeze out decades of experience.
"This will result in the loss of expertise in environmental conservation as well as other specialities such as bushfire management and invasive species control," Dr Faruqi said.
"Thousands of Sydney families visit the Georges River National Park each year to picnic, go on bushwalks and enjoy nature.
"With fewer rangers and specialist staff, I am really concerned we will see impacts on the visitors - less maintenance of walking tracks, picnic areas and educational experiences for school kids, and the general deterioration of the natural environment."
However an Office of Environment and Heritage spokesperson has told the Torch that the restructure will benefit the Georges River National Park, and increase the number of frontline roles.
"The restructure will see an increased number of 119 full-time equivalent roles, of which 115 are frontline roles, placing resources where we need them to support the community, and especially in regional areas," the spokesperson said.
The restructure would involve an increase in field staff in the Royal National Park area, the spokesperson said, which included the Georges River National Park.
"This rise in staffing will significantly increase NPWS' capacity for service-delivery at Georges River National Park.
"We are also improving the mix of junior and senior roles, providing opportunities for young people to be able to work for the NPWS."
The spokesperson said contrary to warnings by the Greens, the restructure would not reduce its capacity to conduct firefighting and hazard-reduction.

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Publication: Torch | Section: News | Author: Mick Roberts | Story ID: 134662 | Viewcount: 5015