The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) annual report shows it has substantially increased the number of senior executives in its ranks while cutting vital field staff over the past financial year.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said “at a time when an enormous amount of work still needs to be done in relation to the extraordinarily slow fire response over the past two years, it’s disappointing to learn front line numbers have been cut and office jobs have increased”.
Senior DELWP officials were unable to fully explain a loss of 133 full-time equivalent field staff across the financial year when questioned recently at Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee.
“The department’s annual report shows there has been a steady erosion in numbers of frontline staff employed to deliver vital services on the ground,” Mr Bull said.
“Rural communities are frustrated by the government’s failure to carry out basic weed and pest control. The Andrews Government is the worst neighbour in the state.
“Instead of employing yet more people to write citycentric policies and put out social media, it should be investing in the frontline staff tasked with managing public land.”
“Labor needs to explain what frontline roles were no longer being fulfilled after such a significant reduction in field staff.
“Summer is a very demanding time for many regional communities, and yet we are seeing jobs slashed in a department whose responsibilities include bushfire risk management.
“Labor has shown it is only about lip service rather than helping communities meet these challenges on the ground.
“The last thing we need is more bureaucrats and executives when there is so much crucial work to be done within DELWP’s scope.
“The Andrews Government must come clean and tell Victorians what services have been curtailed as a result of these cuts.”