Jobs slashed at Environmental Dep could mean extinction for rare species

Jobs slashed at Environmental Dep could mean extinction for rare species
The Eastern Pygmy Possum is an endangered species in Australia. Photo by Phil Spark via Wikimedia Commons

The Federal Environmental Department is set to lose 1/3 of its staff that actively work to reduce Australia’s accelerated rate of extinction, for which we are sadly a world leader. The cuts have come during a national review of threatened Australian species that revealed at least 1/3 of 548 species were not being actively tracked.

The report found that the issues that caused the lack of tracking would be made worse by these job cuts. Experts have described the cuts as particularly disastrous for the fate of many threatened species in Australia.

Documents that have been given to staff at the Department of Environment and Energy reveal that at least 60 full-time staff would leave the conservation and biodiversity division in the new financial year.

With barley more than 200 staff at the department, these cuts represent about 1/3 of the jobs there. The document revealed that the reason for the job cuts was because of a budget cut to those divisions.

The Department’s spokesperson, when asked to clarify any relation to the upcoming federal budget, said that the Department of Environment and Energy would “publish its budget position” in the following week.

He revealed that the job losses had been a result of a combination of program cuts and pressures from “across the portfolio”.

The conservation and biodiversity divisions that the jobs are being cut from are responsible for coordinating listings of endangered and threatened species as well as making plans for recovery and actions against invasive species.

Although the documents show that there will be a shuffle of responsibility to manage those areas, the lack of staff will be a shot of bad news for the species that are already threatened at the moment.

The cuts to the Department follow what many economists have said is a Federal divestment from environmental policy as it takes a back seat to policy designed to stimulate the economy.