Federal Labor MP Janelle Saffin and NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson have expressed concern at the state government’s announcement that it will cut up to 300 jobs as part of a restructure of the department of primary industries (DPI).
As part of the restructure, DPI’s agricultural extension functions will be merged with local Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPAs) and Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) across the state to create a new office, Local Land Services.
Initially some 49 new roles will be created as part of the merger but the new entity will need to find savings of almost $100 million over 2013–14, according to rural newspaper The Land.
Federal Labor member Janelle Saffin has urged state National Party members to lobby their government to halt the cuts.
‘Given that we just heard that there was a billion dollars found in the state budget, surely they’ve got to stop cutting jobs… I think that the NSW government needs to take a serious look at how it treats country people,’ she told ABC radio this morning.
NSW members are concerned at the cuts the government announced yesterday to frontline services in the bush.
Fiona Simson said her members are concerned that some of the positions within the DPI delivering frontline services would no longer exist.
‘Our members value the work and contributions local district agronomists and livestock officers have made to their businesses and the communities in which they live,’ she said in a media release.
‘I too am concerned the cuts may pre-empt what the new framework will look like and I hope it is not indicative of the government’s commitment to resourcing the new agency.
‘But NSW Farmers is at the table reminding government what a valuable resource these services are to the productive farming. We are also on the reference panel to ensure the new agency delivers better and more effective services to our members in the future.
‘We have sought assurances that the value of the DPI will continue to be delivered through the new agency and that the restructure will refocus on the research and delivery we have been calling on for the past three years.
‘The government’s terms of reference for the new agency have given me and other panel members confidence we are not just a rubber stamp but that members will be fully consulted about the new structure.
‘I remain optimistic this is the case but if it turns out not to be so, our members can rest assured the government will be hearing from us loud and clear from the grassroots up.’