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Parks Minister Exposed for Gutting PWS Bushfire Funding

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Tags: Parks, Bushfires, Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Firefighters, State Budget, National Parks, Environment, Climate Change, West Coast

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Parks spokesperson

At a time when Tasmanians should be celebrating this year’s centenary of Tasmania’s world class national parks and reserves, they are instead learning the details of the Liberal Government’s neglect and underfunding of the Parks and Wildlife Service.

In Question Time today, Parks Minister, Matthew Groom, was asked about a $6M cut to PWS over the forward estimates, gutting their land management and remote firefighting capacity. He talked about everything but the facts and the risk posed to Tasmania’s reserves by fire and accelerating climate change.

Tasmania has just experienced devastating Summer bushfires that burned an estimated 20,000 hectares of the TWWHA, and yet the Budget papers show a more than $6M cut to the Parks and Wildlife Service across the forward estimates.

The Greens understand that full time remote area firefighters in Parks have been cut from 19 to 10 statewide and there is only one FTE Parks employee dedicated to fire management covering the entire North West and West Coast.  The Minister this morning claimed there are three.  That is untrue. 

Given the enormous threat bushfires and climate change pose to the TWWHA and other National Parks, it is hard to fathom the mindset of a Minister and a government that are ripping money out of an already underfunded agency and leaving our protected areas so exposed to further damage.

It’s clear Mr Groom is so busy working to exploit Tasmania’s protected areas for a selected few developers through his secret Expressions of Interest process,  he has forgotten about the need to properly fund Parks land management responsibilities.

This is a dangerous abrogation of government’s responsibility to keep communities and natural assets safe from bushfires which will become increasingly more frequent and intense in the years ahead.