ParkWatch: Our NSW National Parks are Under Threat After Years of Neglect by the Coalition Governmen
Ross McKinney, spokesman for Park Watch NSW has responded to the February 4th media release issued by Premier, Gladys Berejiklian saying “The NSW Liberals & Nationals have been careful custodians of the State’s national parks”. Mr McKinney told the Beagle "Nothing could be further from the truth.
“Politicians often guild the lily as to their achievements just before an election but that statement from the Premier, takes the cake. Since the Coalition came to power 30% of National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers have lost their jobs. There are now more national parks than rangers.
"Among other duties rangers are responsible for law enforcement and compliance. Their decline in numbers has resulted in an increase in vandalism, wildlife theft and illegal shooting across the State.
Not only were rangers “restructured” out of NPWS but also pest control officers, and other specialists as well as many experienced field officers.
“It has suddenly dawned on the Government that these people played an important role in controlling feral animals and weeds in national parks, a formal requirement to meet regional pest control plans”, Mr McKinney said.
“Pigs, deer, goats and rabbits don’t recognise land tenure and need to be controlled through these regional plans”.
“The Government is now trying to change the role of rangers to fill the role of the specialists they have sacked. Rangers are already stretched to the limit trying to cover vast distances between parks to carry out their work and now they are being loaded with duties previously carried by other full time officers”.
“Something must give and it’s our national parks and staff that are suffering. Morale in NPWS is at an all-time low”.
Mr McKinney explained “The $150 million promised by the Premier for national parks is committed to new special projects and barely covers catch up money after all the cuts to the NPWS budget under the Coalition Government”.
“And before a Government spokesperson trots out their statement that 119 new NPWS positions have been created these positions are FOGO’s (Field Officer General Operations}. FOGOs cannot operate machinery, not even a chain saw, and don’t work weekends. Field staff report that these positions are next to useless as people with skills and experience and who can work with minimal supervision are required”.
The 54 million plus people who visit our NSW National Parks deserve better and the Coalition Government isn’t delivering.” Mr Mckinney concluded.