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12 January 2022
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has lashed out at the State Government, claiming it has slashed the number of project firefighters while employing more administrative staff.
Ms Kealy said senior Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning officials were unable to explain a loss of 133 full-time field staff across the financial year.
She said the findings were in a Parliamentary Public Accounts and Estimates Committee’s report.
Ms Kealy said the State Government needed to explain what firefighter roles were no longer being fulfilled.
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She said the State Government was hiding behind COVID-19 and neglecting crucial fieldwork.
“The department’s annual report shows there has been a steady erosion in numbers of frontline staff employed to deliver vital services on the ground,” Ms Kealy said.
“Instead of employing more people to write policies and media releases, it should be investing in the frontline staff tasked with managing public land.”
Ms Kealy made the call before firefighters tackled a major blaze at Langkoop-Poolaijelo in west Wimmera that killed thousands of sheep and caused significant damage.
A car fire in South Australia started the fires in west Wimmera on December 31.
The fire spread easterly into Victoria, burning more than 7000 hectares.
The CFA confirmed there was no human loss of life.
The entire January 12, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!