A Turnbull Government decision to grant $444 million in Great Barrier Reef funding to a small foundation to administer is attracting substantial criticism.
Serious questions concerning the Government’s decision-making process and implementation of the grant – first announced in early May as part of the 2018-19 Federal Budget – threaten to erode public support for preservation of the reef, CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski warned.
“It doesn’t pass the test of suspiciousness, how this money ended up in (the Foundation’s) hands so quickly, and it should be rescinded.”
A recent survey has revealed strong support from CSIRO staff for a representative voice on the organisation’s board.
The staff poll also revealed that workplace morale and confidence at CSIRO has stabilised and appears to be slowly rebuilding.
However more than half of respondents revealed dissatisfaction at the current balance between public good research and commercialisation activities at CSIRO.
The Labor Opposition has signalled its intent to rebuild staffing and skills capacity in the federal public sector, promising to scrap staffing caps and rein in outsourcing to contractors, consultants and labour-hire providers.
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Finance Dr Jim Chalmers announced the new approach during a recent speech to the Australia and New Zealand School of Government in Canberra.
“Our public servants are dedicated, hardworking professionals who do their best. But recent developments have diminished the public service’s capacity and damaged its ability to perform these key functions,” Dr Chalmers said.
Australia’s top union activist met with CSIRO staff recently and delivered a speech that reflected on CSIRO cuts, the enterprise bargaining system and the growing need to change workplace laws.
It was standing room only at Clayton’s Ian Wark theatre to hear Sally McManus – Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) – speak with hundreds of CSIRO staff from dozens of workplaces around the country tuning in remotely.