ACTION PLAN LAUNCH: Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser, Agriculture Minister Katrina Hodgkinson and acting Northern Rivers CMA chairman Rod McKelvey.
ACTION PLAN LAUNCH: Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser, Agriculture Minister Katrina Hodgkinson and acting Northern Rivers CMA chairman Rod McKelvey.

Catchment authority plan launched to concerns of job losses

THE latest blueprint for the management of north-east NSW's natural assets has been officially launched amid concerns about how it will be implemented.

Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson yesterday spoke glowingly of the 2013-2023 Northern Rivers Catchment Action Plan, a day after 11 jobs were cut from the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority.

The job losses took the CMA's labour force from 27 to 17.

The acting chairman of the Northern Rivers CMA, Rod McKelvey,

said the losses came as three Coffs Harbour-based Department of Agriculture jobs were signalled for migration across to a new merged body which, from July 1, will be known as the CMAG, and from January 1 as Local Land Services.

"It appears that six jobs were lost locally here from Coffs Harbour," Mr McKelvey said.

The minister, meantime, seemed surprised to be questioned about job losses instead of the Catchment Action Plan.

"A year ago all ministers were told to make budget savings across their departments," Ms Hodgkinson said. "In my case three industrial awards were rolled into one and all staff were asked to reapply for their jobs. That process has led to some people leaving and some not being reappointed.

"I have not, as has been suggested, retrenched a whole lot of staff locally."

Ms Hodgkinson said she was confident that there were enough people and funding to implement the new plan.

"The state's budget for the 11 CMAs in NSW is $112 million and there has actually been an increase in funding to the local CMA of $300,000 for this year," she said.

Mr McKelvey said staff had expressed concern the increased funding might not cover the CMA's additional workload.



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