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Locusts harder to manage "due to job cuts"

Friday, 23rd April, 2010

Cutting jobs from the Department of Primary Industries will make the current locust plague harder to manage, according to Nationals MP John Williams.

The State Opposition is claiming that up to 185 jobs will be axed from the department through voluntary redundancies. But the government has said that it is seeking voluntary redundancies from less than 100 "back office" staff. Mr Williams told Parliament on Wednesday that constituents in his electorate were concerned about the cuts to the department, which, he said, had a major role in the strategy set up to control the locust plague. He said the Government needed to focus its attention on planning for spring, locust-breeding season, as the worst of the plague is yet to come. "Locusts are already fairly active in most of my electorate and it is predicted that come spring we will see one of the biggest outbreaks of locusts in 30 years," Mr Williams said in a private members statement. He said the Department of Primary Industries was the only agency with the capacity to improve the locust situation. "The support and resources of the Department are needed to tackle the problem and the Department has the intelligence to handle this outbreak as it has in the past and we need it on board. "There must be focus and planning now to ensure that a ground attack can be mounted to reduce the damage that the plague locusts will cause come spring. "If they take hold they have the ability to wipe out most of the pasture that people will rely on in the new season and obviously any of the crops that come up in spring will be cleaned out by the locust plague. "People in my electorate are concerned about the reduction in staff in what was formerly the Department of Primary Industries, now the Department of Industry and Investment. "It is untimely for the Government to be considering staff reductions in this Department because come September-October New South Wales will face a crisis in the rural industry."

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