Parks chief struggled to find cash for pest control
The woman in charge of Australia's national parks says a decade of financial neglect left her juggling competing problems, and too poor to properly manage feral pests.
Director of National Parks Jody Swirepik says park managers will be able to resume crucial day-to-day activities after a federal budget boost of $262 million across four years.
She used a budget estimates hearing on Monday to describe in detail what a decade of underfunding under successive coalition governments had done.
"Over the last 10 years ... we've had insufficient funding," she told a budget estimates hearing on Monday.
"In fact, we've had to call on reserve funds every year, or come back to government every year, just to do our basic activities."
She said the lack of cash meant difficult choices had to be made.
"Most years we've been juggling things like work-health safety on park staffing numbers, so whether we can afford seasonal rangers or to be able to offer a ranger-guided activity," she said.
Ms Swirepik said the lack of cash meant it was stop and start for a range of important activities, including feral animal control and weed management and a program that employed indigenous people on country.
"We've had to just see what we've got every year," she said.
"The fact it's ongoing funding means we can now plan our programs properly to protect both environmental and cultural values in our parks."
Ms Swirepik said delivering crucial services in a much more consistent way would help Australia take care of its natural jewels, including its premier World Heritage-listed parks.
"There's also $70 million for asset renewal," she said.
"To be able to actually maintain camp grounds and walking tracks and shade structures ... for visitor safety and visitor enjoyment means that the parks will be a lot better places to visit.
"We'll be able to maintain them in the iconic status that they deserve."