Public sector in Budget firing line

TEACHERS' aids, librarians, physiotherapists and land officers in New South Wales are in the firing line for State Government budget cuts.

Since Treasurer Mike Baird confirmed 10,000 public sector jobs were expected to go by 2016 in his budget speech on Tuesday, unions bosses have started to learn which departments will be hit hardest.

While it has promised to quarantine nurses, police and teachers, the State Government has admitted it will not offer the same protection to everyone in the health and education industries.

During question time in parliament on Wednesday Education Minister Andrew Piccoli was asked if teachers' aides, TAFE teachers and other school staff would be exempt from cuts.

Rather than saying "no", Mr Piccoli answered "of course we are making efficiencies in education - expect the government to run our bureaucracies more efficiently".

Health Minister Jillian Skinner also did nothing to dispel rumours of physiotherapy job losses.

Instead of directly answering the question she chose to talk about funding for extra nurses.

Some of the biggest cutbacks will be felt within the Department of Primary Industries, which has been ordered to find $13 million in savings over the next four years.

At least 170 Crown Land positions across the state will be the first to go.

NSW Public Service Association assistant secretary Steve Turner said the cuts would jeopardise the processing of Aboriginal land claims and stall pending business applications to lease crown land.

Union bosses will visit sites around the state in coming weeks to talk to staff about the changes.

No new money for farmers

Nothing in Tuesday's New South Wales Budget will make life on the land any easier for North Coast farmers, says NSW Farmers chief Fiona Simson.

Speaking about the lack of new money directed towards the farming industry on Wednesday, Ms Simson said it was disappointing the government had effectively "ignored" regional NSW.

She said the government's $3.8 billion commitment to the rural road network had been chewed up by funding for major highways.

She also accepted that while North Coast farmers needed to travel along the Pacific Hwy, it was vital they were able to get their safely in the first place.

The Department of Primary Industry's funding highlighted in Tuesday's Budget address is part of the $1.1 billion bumper budget from last year, Ms Simson said

She also questioned why the government had not invested in research and development in regional NSW at a time when a $1 investment in R&D programs had a return of more than $10.

While no new money was announced this week, Ms Simson said there was still hope an announcement later this year could benefit North Coast Farmers.

She said NSW farmers looked forward to hearing more about the government's $4.8 million commitment to biosecurity programs.

"Agriculture is an important contributor to the NSW economy," Ms Simson said

"It generates more than $8.4 billion annually and employs 74,000 people full-time.

"More importantly, it is the backbone of thousands of rural communities throughout NSW."


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