The public servant in charge of New South Wales’ environment agencies has been sacked while the ongoing bushfire crisis ravages the state.
Anissa Levy, coordinator-general of environment, energy and science at the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has been removed from her role while on leave, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Departmental insiders reportedly leaked the news, with some sources stating Levy and Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean had not seen eye to eye on some matters including the allocation of firefighters to conservation issues.
Kean has confirmed Levy would not be returning to her role.
Prior to working as coordinator-general, Levy was deputy chief executive officer of Infrastructure NSW. Before that, she headed the state Environmental Protection Authority, but stepped down from the role in November 2018 following criticism of the EPA’s handling of a report into the use of treated waste from household bins on agricultural land.
Current EPA boss Tracey Mackey has been acting in Levy’s role during her time on leave, which was planned to wrap up on January 28.
Machinery of government changes shook up the NSW public service last year, following the state election. The former Department of Planning and Environment, and the Department of Industry, merged to create the current Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. The department is led by the former head of Infrastructure NSW Jim Betts.
Parts of the state have been burning for months, including the Gospers Mountain fire, which burned from October until Sunday, when firefighters brought the blaze under control. There are currently 111 bush and grass fires burning across NSW, according to a tweet from the NSW Rural Fire Service.
At 8:30pm there are 111 bush and grass fires burning across NSW, all at the Advice alert level, with 40 not yet contained. While it's been pleasing to hear of rain falling across parts of the state today, many of these fires will still take some time to fully contain. #NSWRFS pic.twitter.com/ZtF2IgDzkc
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 12, 2020