Some of Queanbeyan’s most senior frontline staff within the National Parks and Wildlife Service will lose their jobs under proposed cuts to the service.
The Public Service Association held a rally on Thursday to protest the cuts and highlight the impacts they believe the loss of these jobs will bring.
It is understood three ecologists and a pest management officer will be cut from the NPWS Queanbeyan office. An area manager who is responsible for the broader region, including Queanbeyan, will also be lost.
PSA general secretary Stewart Little said these people were often on the frontline of bushfires and other emergencies and were integral to dealing with introduced species and feral animals.
“We’re losing hundreds of years of expertise,” Mr Stewart said.
“These are people that have been deployed to the US, New Zealand and Europe, indeed they’re often regarded as amongst the best in the world.
“The current position of the National Parks and this latest round of job cuts really places it at an all time low.
“I don’t think we’ve had a situation like this since the government tried to bring in recreational hunting within National Parks.”
Mr Little said the union group estimated more than 100 job losses across the state including 28 senior rangers. The NPWS will be shrunk from 50 areas to 37.
Labor candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson attended the rally and was highly critical of the job cuts, which he said would have serious flow on effects.
“This isn’t just five jobs lost,” Mr Wilson said.
“This affects families in our community.
“This affects farmers who will have livestock and crops threatened by feral animals or weeds.
“That’s where you’ll see the real impact of the government’s decision to cut these jobs.”
Member for Monaro John Barilaro said the restructuring of the NPWS would actually see jobs created.
“This restructure is great news for the Monaro and will see resources allocated where we need them most,” he said.
“This will mean less back of office jobs and will create 38 new front line jobs within our region.”
A spokeswoman for the Office of Environment and Heritage confirmed the restructure would see a decrease in senior staff.
“As part of the transition from 50 to 37 areas, the number of managers in the field will be reduced,” the spokeswoman said.
“However, the number of ongoing operational and customer service employees will increase.”
The spokeswoman added the NPWS would remain committed to services such as firefighting and pest management. She said there were no plans to cut any of the 1100 trained firefighters or any plans to alter pest management control.
Mr Stewart said he hoped the people of NSW realised the impacts of the cuts and committed to ensuring such cuts would not be forgotten at the 2019 election.
“Imagine if they cut the budget to the police, or any other frontline agency,” he said.
“People would be correctly outraged.
“They cut the NPWS because they think the community will let them get away with it.
“We will certainly be reminding communities that local members did not stand up for these jobs [at the election].”