From the wireless technology that drives our smartphones and laptops, to the polymer banknotes underpinning the cash economy – almost every Australian benefits daily from an innovation that the CSIRO has helped to pioneer.
Now the union representing CSIRO employees has launched five key science policy priorities ahead of this year’s federal election.
The CSIRO Staff Association has called for greater recognition of the role played by Government Laboratories in keeping Australia safe, healthy, prosperous and on the cutting edge of global innovation.
“CSIRO’s capacity to innovate time and time again has made it an Australian household name,” said Staff Association President and Principal Research Scientist, Dr Michael Borgas.
Dr Borgas said that while Australia’s future prospects were bright, there were big challenges ahead.
“The economy must change to embrace the opportunities that the Asian Century promises. A globalised world and changing lifestyles pose new threats to the health and wellbeing of our citizens. And the Australian environment – that we all share – is being stress tested like never before.”
“We welcome the comments made by the Chief Scientist Ian Chubb who has called for the Government to maintain funding for strategic research, build new international collaborations and the importance of research that is underpinned by integrity.”
While CSIRO is trusted and has an enviable track record, Dr Borgas warned politicians and policy-makers against taking for granted the capacity of the organisation to keep on delivering science in the national interest.
“The recent spate of cuts – more than 200 CSIRO employees are in the process of losing their jobs – shows that the organisation is under pressure and its capacity to innovate will be affected,” Dr Borgas said.
“That’s why the CSIRO Staff Association has taken the step to release these five science policy priorities ahead of the Federal Election.
“This is not an election wish list. Our priorities are simple to understand and go to the heart of the challenges faced by CSIRO and Australia’s capacity to innovate, now and in the future,” he said.
- Growth funding in the next Quadrennial Funding Agreement for CSIRO
- No privatisation or break up of CSIRO or outsourcing of research or support functions
- Implementing consistent science integrity principles in CSIRO and the Federal Public Sector
- Investing in research capability and infrastructure for industry innovation precincts
- Guaranteeing no closure of any CSIRO regional site and supporting regional science
Dr Borgas said that he had today written to leading politicians, outlining the five priorities and seeking a response.
“The Staff Association has sent letters to Science Minister Kim Carr, Shadow Minister Sophie Mirabella and the science spokesman for the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt MP.
“We’re seeking their views and promise to make public their responses to our science policy priorities,” he said.
Dr Borgas also said that the union was developing a nationwide list of target electorates for on the ground campaigning as polling day drew nearer.
“We’ll be contacting individual candidates from a range of seats across the country to raise the important contribution that CSIRO makes in their local communities and seek to enlist their support for our science policy priorities,” Dr Borgas said.
For more information on the priorities, see overleaf or visit http://www.cpsu-csiro.org.au
To arrange additional comment or an interview with Dr Michael Borgas, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0410 330 764.
Growth funding in the next Quadrennial Funding Agreement for CSIRO
The Staff Association calls on political parties and candidates to support an increase to CSIRO’s funding, in real terms to help drive Australia’s innovation and productivity agenda.
The recent cuts to jobs, research and operations at CSIRO highlight the vital need for funding certainty and stability in the next Quadrennial Funding Agreement.
To develop the next generation of Australian innovation, CSIRO requires an investment injection – not just funding maintenance.
No privatisation or break up of CSIRO or outsourcing of research or support functions
Australians cherish CSIRO not only as a national icon but priceless public asset held in trust for future generations.
The CSIRO must never be privatised or broken up and sold into private hands.
The organisation must also be protected against privatisation by stealth, through the outsourcing of research or support functions.
CSIRO is Australia’s premier scientific research institution – and no function, service or capability of the organisation should ever be offshored to foreign-based providers.
Implementing consistent science integrity principles in CSIRO and the Federal Public Sector
Science, innovation and research are fundamental to the economic, environmental and social needs and aspirations of the Australian community.
The federal public sector is trusted to discover, apply and communicate science in a frank and fearless manner, without political or commercial interference. Science integrity ensures that the best research outcomes are achieved and that scientific advice is independent and verifiable.
Australia needs a Science Integrity Charter for CSIRO and the whole Federal Public Sector – to establish clear, consistent principles for organisations and staff involved in science, research and innovation.
Investing in research capability and infrastructure for industry innovation precincts
Diversifying the Australian economy in the post-resources boom period will require careful and sustained investment.
CSIRO’s expertise – especially in potential growth industries such as agriculture, food production, health and nutrition and advanced manufacturing – makes it a vital national asset when it comes to improving Australia’s productivity.
The establishment of Industry Innovation Precincts must build research capability and infrastructure to capitalise on CSIRO’s track record as the nation’s hub for collaborative, multidisciplinary research.
Guaranteeing no closure of any CSIRO regional site and supporting regional science
CSIRO has a large regional workforce, with hundreds of researchers and support staff located at dozens of sites across Australia, often working closely with industry organisations and local universities.
These regional laboratories make an important contribution – not only in terms of scientific research – but to the communities they are connected to and the productivity of regional industries.
Australia’s regions will form the backdrop to some of the most exciting and important research ever conducted in our history –from deep space astronomy to next generation food production. CSIROs’ regional laboratories must remain vibrant, well resourced and with a secure future.