Michelle Lensink

Environment Department gets the chop

The Weatherill Labor Government’s savage cuts to the Environment Department in the State Budget will severely undermine the protection of South Australia’s fragile natural environment.

“The State Budget shows that this Government’s investment in Environment agencies has fallen from $258 million in 2008-09 to just $107.5 million next year,” said Shadow Environment Minister Michelle Lensink.

“This savage budget cut to the funding of Environment agencies will see its overall workforce fall from 2,236.6 FTE in 2008-09 to 1,709.4 FTE next financial year.

“I’m deeply concerned that the huge jobs losses and savage funding cuts will fatally compromise the agencies’ ability to respond to the substantial challenges facing South Australia’s environment.

“In particular our National Parks have borne the brunt of Labor’s neglect of the environment with the number of park rangers falling from 300 in 2002 to just 88 this year.

“South Australia has 347 National Parks covering 21 million hectares and I’m fearful that even more park rangers will be cut during the next four years.

“The Native Vegetation Unit is being slashed to one third and Regional Biodiversity programs have also been axed.

“Given these figures it’s little surprise that Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis nominated abolishing the Environment Department as an option for reducing the State Government’s massive deficit.”

The Environment Departments website states:

Our natural resources are of great importance to the people of South Australia. They underpin our health, wellbeing, prosperity and way of life.

“It’s time the Weatherill Labor Government understood the importance of those words and acted accordingly,” Ms Lensink said.

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