Environment Minister Ian Hunter has today refused to rule out cutting the number of park rangers this financial year.
Today in Parliament’s Estimates Committee, Minister Hunter said:
“We are still working through our departmental plans in terms of our budget and so I cannot give you any unequivocal answer in terms of what the number of rangers will be at the end of the financial year, but as I said, we currently have 88.”
“The current number of park rangers protecting our parks is woefully inadequate and the Minister’s failure to rule out further cuts is deeply concerning,” said Shadow Environment Minister Michelle Lensink.
South Australia is home to 343 parks that span across 21,071,663 hectares and make up 21.5 per cent of our State. These large areas require adequate care, protection and management.
However, under Premier Weatherill and Labor, the number of park rangers has already been slashed to less than 90, down from hundreds in previous years.
During the recent State Election campaign, the State Liberals committed to providing almost $1 million per year to increase our park rangers.
The State Liberals’ commitment would have provided up to 12 new park rangers.
“It is extremely concerning to learn that the number of park rangers protecting South Australia’s environment may be cut even further by the Weatherill Labor Government,” Ms Lensink said.
“Park rangers are vital in preserving South Australia’s parks, our natural heritage and ensuring that visitors see the best our parks have to offer.
“It is important that our parks system is protected, our metropolitan coast areas are supported and our environmental managers are empowered to continue caring for this precious resource.”