ANNA PATTY August 07, 2012
Relocated ... the fisheries research station is being moved from Cronulla. Photo: Brendan Esposito
THE relocation of the fisheries research station at Cronulla to regional NSW was expected to result in the loss of 26 to 56 jobs, saving the NSW government $5.34 million in costs, internal documents reveal.
The documents raise questions about the government's publicly-stated position that its only intention was to relocate employees to regional areas as part of its ''decade of decentralisation'' policy.
Obtained by the Labor opposition, the documents, dated August 30 last year, discuss the fisheries budget and suggest the government could save $5.34 million in employee-related costs within the fisheries branch of the Department of Primary Industries, with the relocation expected to result in the loss of 26 to 56 jobs.
The opposition spokesman for primary industries, Steve Whan, said the document shows the department had identified $5.34 million in targeted reductions in employee-related expenses after cutting up to 56 jobs.
"It also indicates that some 12 jobs were to be removed from the Cronulla Fisheries Centre through research and fisheries management,'' Mr Whan said.
"This clearly contradicts the government's previous statements which assured employees and the fishing industry that all positions at Cronulla would be maintained as the relocation took place.''
The director-general of the Department of Primary Industries, Richard Sheldrake, and the executive director of Fisheries NSW, Geoff Allan, yesterday told a joint parliamentary inquiry into the Cronulla Fisheries relocation that it was motivated by a commitment to deliver the decentralisation policy. So far, 40 per cent of the centre's 147 staff had committed to relocation.
Dr Allan said only two of 14 scientists had agreed to move and he acknowledged there was a risk of losing some of the centre's corporate knowledge.
Dr Sheldrake said his department had not yet conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the relocation.
Documents obtained by the Herald late last year showed the decision was made without a business case, without costings and without cabinet submission.
A spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries said costs and savings cannot be finally determined until all eligible staff have decided whether they will transfer.