Job cuts eat away at ag services

NSW Farmers is concerned at the effects  job cuts at the Department of Primary Industries will have on front-line services to the bush.

“Members are apprehensive some of the positions within the DPI will no longer exist,” NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson said.

“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.”

Ms Simson said the farming body wanted to “remain at the table” and reminded the state government of the valuable resources within the DPI that contribute to productive farming in this country.

“We are on the new reference panel to ensure the new agency delivers better and more effective services to our members in the future,” she said.

In the biggest upheaval of restructuring within agricultural-based advisory services in this state for decades, the state government has announced the Livestock Health and Pest Authority and Catchment Management authority will no longer exist but be encapsulated into a new departmental model.

The Public Service Association in Orange has told the Central Western Daily the DPI restructure is purely budgetary.

“The government is expecting a budget shortfall of $30 million in 2013/14,” state branch assistant general secretary Shane O’Brien said .

The union says 110 positions will be deleted from the Catchment Management Authority, 50 from Biosecurity, 90 from agriculture, and 47 from business services. It also says a further 49 agriculture positions will move to the new Local Land Services.

Orange PSA representative Bernard Fitzsimon has described the delivery of the news to staff at the DPI in Orange last week as devastating for many employees who have given decades of service to agriculture in this state.

The PSA says staff are now facing a number of challenges, including  being forced to relocate if they want to retain their positions or take redundancies, while others can reapply for jobs in the newly formed Local Land Services with no guarantee they will be re-employed.

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