NSW Government claims of support for decentralisation have been described as a "sick joke" following its decision to cut 300 jobs from the Department of Primary Industries.
Opposition primary industries spokesman, Steve Whan, said the O'Farrell Stoner Government's promise of a "decade of decentralisation" was now in tatters.
He said the announcement to slash jobs would result in the loss of vital services in regional NSW and broke a core election promise there would be no cuts in the Department of Primary Industries.
Mr Whan said the Government had confirmed it would cut 300 jobs from 13 Department of Primary Industries offices due to 'budgetary constraints' - despite the fact it was last week revealed the Treasurer made a $1 billion mistake in the State's finances and NSW actually has a $680 million surplus.
"The loss of 300 primary industries will slash services in regional NSW and see an exodus of expertise from our State," he said.
"This broken promise is a huge concern for staff and families and also will have massive flow-on impacts for farmers and the State.
"The O'Farrell Government isn't creating jobs in regional NSW, it is creating unemployment.
"At least 50 jobs are being cut in biosecurity, and that means we will be more vulnerable to serious threats like foot and mouth disease or even things like equine influenza.
"This will cause a massive loss of face-to-face services for farmers. It is now also clear that these cuts will separate research services from the extension staff. In the long term, that means the loss of up-to-date knowledge for extension staff and the loss of vital practical application of research.
"The director general (Richard Sheldrake) has announced that research work will be more directly connected to industries, which in reality means that only research able to be commercially funded will take place.
"Extension staff are to be moved to CMAs before they can even be told what legal form their long-term employer will take, without knowing their employment conditions and while more than 100 jobs are cut from the CMAs.
"At a time where NSW agriculture should be focusing on how to increase output to take advantage of the opportunities highlighted in the Asian Century report, we have this government demolishing the very things that give our farmers their competitive advantage.
"We are seeing an appalling lack of leadership in NSW agriculture and we are seeing the Government's promises of a decade of decentralisation now looking like a sick joke."
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