FINANCE Minister Greg Pearce has rejected widespread reports the state government slashed funding for emergency services including NSW Fire and Rescue and the Rural Fire Service in the budget last year.
“We actually increased the funding, when you look at the figures,” Mr Pearce said while visiting the Shoalhaven RFS headquarters on Thursday as personnel co-ordinated the battle against the Deans Gap fire.
“As a government we have been able to make sure they are properly resourced.”
However he later conceded, “We’re in very difficult times, our revenue is down.”
“We’ve left it to the managers of the different services to see how they can improve productivity,” Mr Pearce said, mentioning measures including making sure people took holidays when scheduled, cutting back overtime and improving rostering.
Mr Pearce conceded such measures went out the window during emergencies such as the one facing the Shoalhaven.
“We have to rely on the management of all the agencies to ensure that these situations are properly managed,” he said.
Mr Pearce, who was holidaying in Bawley Point when the fire emergency hit the region, said he wanted to wait until things calmed down before going to the Nowra headquarters to congratulate RFS personnel on their efforts.
“This has been quite a scary period of time,” Mr Pearce said.
“Through the fantastic work of the RFS and all the other services there has fortunately been only a limited amount of damage this time.”