Funding cuts to National Parks have become so extreme that they are starting to have an impact on residents of the northern Illawarra, according to Wollongong’s Greens councillors.
A rally will be held outside the NSW Government Offices, 84 Crown Street Wollongong, to push for an increase in funding on Thursday at midday.
Wollongong War One Greens Councillor Mithra Cox said residents of Austinmer are being parked out because of the huge volume of walkers using the Sublime Point track.
“There are so many other amazing bushwalks in the Illawarra escarpment, but there are no maps, no signposts and the tracks are not properly maintained,” Ms Cox said.
“We could connect up the walking trails between the Royal National Park, the Illawarra Escarpment and Morton National Park for a world class multi-day hike through some of the most spectacular rainforest in the country.
“Instead, people from Wollongong fly to Tasmania or New Zealand for to go hiking because there’s not enough funding in NSW to replace some timber stairs, let alone to have a grand vision for nature tourism in the Illawarra.”
Ms Cox said the Liberal Government has slashed funding so severely from National Parks that there has been a lack of maintenance of the modest walking tracks that used to be open to the public.
“The budget cuts are not only affecting residents,” she said.
“The bushland is also suffering, with a huge increase in feral animals like deer, erosion from informal and poorly maintained tracks and weeds rapidly spreading through fragile ecosystems.
“The NSW Liberal Government boasts of a $4.5 billion surplus, but it has come at a heavy price for our public assets that have either been sold or severely under funded,” Ms Cox said.