JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Up to 200 public servants to lose jobs in Environment Department

Up to 200 more public servants at the Environment Department are set to lose their jobs as the government strips the agency of funding and responsibilities.

The department's environmental assessment division will be almost wiped out with the survivors acting as a rubber stamp for state environmental approvals in line with the Abbott government's policy of cutting "green tape".

The department's boss has told staff that 25 per cent will be slashed from the budget over the next four years with most of the cuts coming in staffing numbers, a move that could reduce departmental numbers to fewer than 1700 - from 2300 last year - in coming years.

Do you know more? Send your confidential tips to ps@canberratimes.com.au

A call for voluntary redundancies is expected at Environment in coming weeks for a second tranche of cuts after 143 jobs were lost last year through redundancies.

Senior staff at the department were told recently there had been serious reductions in funding for its Environmental Assessments division, which will soon stop carrying out assessments and start operating as an audit body for state environmental decisions.

It is understood the compliance component of the division will not be affected but its strategic assessment group and regional planning groups are to be abolished.

Departmental secretary Gordon de Brouwer flagged the upcoming job cuts in broad terms with his staff last month.

A departmental spokeswoman refused to answer questions about upcoming staff changes, saying a "strategic review" was under way.

She referred questions about money allocations to the department's portfolio budget statement, which says there have been no changes to the environmental regulation program since May 2013.

The main public sector union told Fairfax Media that it too had encountered a cagey response to requests for information from the department.

CPSU deputy secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said the union had not even been given an estimate of how many jobs were threatened.

''We know that jobs are on the line but what we don't know is how many and over what period of time,'' Ms Vincent-Pietsch said.

''Last week we met with the department but they were unable to shed any light other than to acknowledge their strategic review would result in a whole new departmental structure and that finally issues such as increased workloads might be addressed.

''The department has a 25 per cent budget black hole to fill over four years and we question whether they can find enough people willing to take a redundancy to fill it given there were more than 140 redundancies in 2013.

''To have this cloud of uncertainty hanging over staff is very debilitating and unfair and we will continue to press the department for answers.''

79 comments

  • Unspeakable bastardy being committed by an unspeakable government on the people and processes we depend on to protect our natural environment! It will not be forgotten, and not forgiven!

    Commenter
    Abbott's Nemesis
    Date and time
    March 05, 2014, 12:52AM
    • Come on...

      A move to using audits of State Government approvals as the basis for Commonwealth approval under EPB&C Act is not unreasonable.

      Why should the Commonwealth be duplicating state processes when those processes have integrity? A well functioning audit process will expose inadequacies and trigger additional investigation.

      Should it work, this is a proposal which will save the taxpayer money and maintain environmental protection = Good Policy....

      Commenter
      Gramus
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 9:27AM
    • Well on a bright note ... there were still 200 jobs to slash!
      I thought they were all already gone. SO head in the sand politics 101 ... what now toned Abs. Now that we see & hear no problems can we live a happy peaceful life where are money is silently moved to the wealthy & affluent.
      Few more jobs guys & you could surely be hitting the; sack 1million workers in 1 year target.

      Commenter
      Yuppy
      Location
      Yuppy Ville
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 9:37AM
    • The Fossil Fuel Incumbency is in the Bunker, Commanding their last counter offensive against science and increasing renewable energy uptake world wide. They do this via extensive lobbying and political party funding for sympathetic ultra-conservative government. Its a race against time to get Australia's energy future impossibly tied up to Fossil Fuel only. We are less likely to change if all our eggs are in one basket. Can they do it before Australians wake up and before the Global carbon bubble bursts. Stay tuned, the experiments on you. Latest target Environment Department!

      Commenter
      Urban Off-gridder
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 9:58AM
    • Abbott's Nemesis-The bastardry is committed by the Greens and a Labor Party that is dependent on the Greens for their preferences.

      Commenter
      noitall
      Location
      Beacon Hill
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 10:18AM
    • Hear, hear. The sooner this mob is turfed out the better. Open, honest govt with no surprises is what we were told we would get - guess it must be open to poetic licence and political interpretation.

      Commenter
      hug48
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 11:56AM
    • We have collective responsibility for what is occurring at every level of society. Our emphasis on individuality has framed itself so that only certain human individuality is important, thus making it acceptable to destroy other ‘less important’ aspects of the whole.

      If it’s out of sight it’s out of mind, none are connected in any way to the ‘natural’ world. None have had the courage to question what our actions are doing in the short, medium & long term. In terms of environmental degradation that denials been going for the past 20 years; our oceans are acid, with great plumes of rubbish floating in the oceans.

      We exist as part of a whole. Our individual identity is fulfilled only when we see ourselves in context. When we as individuals try to dislodge ourselves from that context, we destroy the very context we need for growth & survival. We have done to the earth right now. It’s taken earth thousands of years to provide what’s been extracted by resources over the past two decades; in addition to destroying biodiversity we have greater drought in central, & outback Australia where governments & their corporate masters are responsible for land degradation, with wildlife species killed off, compromised in record numbers.

      Watching SN program with Alex Cullen & his family, sad as it is, we have sown the very seeds of that destruction.
      A basic understanding of life & its support systems, & disturbing that balance, is nothing short of vandalism, any Attenborough documentary will teach you that. No trees, no water, billabongs, or the capacity for ecological systems to sustain, support & attract natural habitat or support weather systems to sustain life.

      I am a gardener, & I understand how much work goes into keeping a healthy soil & supporting its systems.

      Commenter
      Sierra Sierra
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 12:19PM
    • @noitall

      Yeah, because the Coalition is really just one party and the Nationals and Liberals don't give preferences to each other ...

      Commenter
      Mythbuster
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 12:28PM
    • +1 The LNP are at "war" with the environment and those who seek and work to protect it. In Queensland, Premier Newman openly declared that this "war" had begun and that his government were in the coal business. (note: not in the business of governing in the best interests of the people, rather in the business of governing in the best interests of the coal/gas mining corporations) If it's a "war" then operational secrecy must be strictly adhered to, hence all the confusion and misinformation and uncertainty. Hell, Abbott might even begin drafting people soon to join his anti environment army...or will his "green" army of unemployed be trained to attack environmental protesters? At war with the environment, at war with the boat people, at war with the unemployed and disabled, at war with the average worker, at war with science and common sense....war is in the LNP's DNA.

      Commenter
      PaxUs
      Location
      Austerelia
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 1:12PM
    • The Gillard Government made 140 Environment department redundancies last financial year. They also outlined in the 2013-14 budget that a further voluntary separation program may need to be undertaken to meet government savings measures. Either way, LNP or ALP, these cuts were going ahead as part of the 4000 Federal Public service jobs cuts that Penny Wong announced.

      http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/cloud-over-public-servants-jobs-20120523-1z50t.html

      Commenter
      Oscar
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 1:55PM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo