More cutbacks for agriculture industry
There will be little support for Western Australia’s primary and agriculture industry if the Department of Food and Agriculture continues to lose funding and staff according to the Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association.
The department is budgeted to lose 139 full-time equivalent staff in the 2015-15 financial year which reinforces farming industry feedback that funding cuts means the Department will only be a regulatory body in the future.
Already this financial year 100 staff accepted voluntary severance packages with another 50 expected to go soon.
“The Barnett Government announced another 139 jobs will disappear next financial year, continuing a disastrous trend for an agency that has provided so much research and support for WA’s agriculture sector over a long period of time,” CPSU/CSA branch secretary Toni Walkington said.
She said WA’s 2013-14 agri-food exports were valued at more than $7.5 billion, highlighting how important the agriculture sector is to the state’s economy.
At the same time of decreasing staff numbers, program funding has been cut as well.
“Budget papers show DAFWA will have to trim $2.4 million (workforce renewal policy), $1.2 million (general efficiency dividend), $3.0 million (procurement savings) and $3.5 million (agency expenditure review) from its bottom line.
“That is a severe blow that will see a lot of programs disappear, leaving the farming industry out in the cold as far as support goes.
“Sadly the agriculture industry is going to be one of the sectors that is going to suffer as DAFWA continually to trim its workforce with more than 500 staff shed in five years.”
Of the 100 staff to accept voluntary severance this year 26 were from Business Support and Corporate Services with 13 from Irrigated Agriculture, 14 from Livestock Industries, 16 from Grain Industry, 14 from Biosecurity and Regulation and 17 from organisational restructures.
“Members are concerned about how they are going to provide sound biosecurity management in the future with $500,000 being taken away from the program in 2015-16.
“They have already reported that the workload is huge and that will continue to be a problem with less staff being available in the future.”
Ms Walkington said the latest round of cutbacks were another example of the Barnett Government’s financial mismanagement with public services and the people who deliver these paying the price for poor government decisions.