Fears over RTA job cuts
By JULIA ILES
Politicians continue to play blame game CLARENCE MP Steve Cansdell will seek an assurance in State Parliament this week that jobs will not be lost from Grafton's Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) offices.
There are fears around 300 RTA jobs will be axed throughout the State after NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi announced the Iemma Government would be attempting to cut costs, citing a cut in Auslink road funding as the reason.
The Auslink project is an $11billion initiative of the Howard Government, which covers land transport.
Mr Tripodi claims the Iemma Government is facing a $298 million shortfall in road funding each year because of the Federal Government's cuts to Auslink funding.
"Throughout the whole time Auslink was being discussed, from 2002 until now, the New South Wales Government stressed to the Federal Government that there would be negative consequences for the state," Mr Tripodi said.
"Faced with a tight financial climate, we have no choice but to make changes."
But Mr Cansdell blamed the deficit on Mr Tripodi's 'inexperience and financial mismanagement', and expressed his concern about the impact the job cuts could have on Grafton's Pacific Highway Office in particular.
"We can't afford any employment losses, it's different if they cut them from administration staff in Sydney, but we just can't afford to lose any frontline service workers, if anything we should increase employment," Mr Cansdell said.
"It's of particular importance as the Grafton office is responsible for the Pacific Highway upgrade.
"Everyone wants the upgrade to be done and the police and ambulance are sick of dragging bodies out of cars.
"And I won't be the only member concerned, as parliamentarians are affected all along the coastlines."
Mr Cansdell's concerns were shared by Greg Shaw of the Public Services Association, who met with State Government officials yesterday to discuss the proposed dismissals.
"They want to cut these 300 jobs directly because of the Auslink funding deficit, but after an additional review, more jobs could go," he said.
Mr Tripodi said yesterday frontline services would not be diminished and that the Pacific Highway remained a key project for the Iemma Government.
Currently no decision has been made regarding which sectors of the RTA will lose staff.
"Consultations with the RTA have just begun where we will work through the process with unions and employees," Mr Tripodi said.
In the first instance employees of the RTA will be encouraged to take volunteer redundancy packages.