The essential guide for Staff Association members examining the key budget measures that will impact on CSIRO.
1. Funding cut for CSIRO
The headline impact from the Federal Budget: CSIRO appropriation funding will be cut by $111.4 million over four years.
CSIRO will also have to absorb the effects on an increased ‘efficiency’ dividend’ – resulting in a further loss of $3.4 million over the forward estimates.
2. More job losses
The budget papers reveal a decline in Average Staffing Levels at CSIRO in the order of 489 positions as a result of the funding cuts. The portfolio budget statements show a decline from 5,523 FTE (2013-14) down to 5,034 FTE by July 2015.
CSIRO management have confirmed that 420 Full Time Equivalent positions will be lost by the end of June 2015. A further 80 FTE are forecast to be cut by June 2018 if CSIRO’s external earnings continue to decline as predicted.
These job losses are additional to the loss of 300 FTE previously announced as a result of the CSIRO restructure. The organisation has already seen the loss of more than 400 jobs since last July.
CSIRO has also received one-off funding of $32.2 million for 2013-14 to fund redundancies.
3. Cuts to Climate Science
The Australian Climate Change Science Program will be folded into a New National Environmental Science Program, with an associated funding cut of $21.7 million. CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology were two of the largest players in the Australian Climate Change Science Program (ACCSP).
There’s a concern that that these cuts will make it more difficult to deliver accurate, world-class climate advice to Government. It’s estimated that CSIRO received up to $4 million in funding from the ACCSP.
The Budget Papers state that the new program “will provide administrative efficiencies and greater cohesion between environmental and climate science research, and will have ongoing funding of $25.5 million per annum.”
4. Cooperative Research Centres funding cut, program under review
Funding to the Cooperative Research Centre Program (CRC) will be cut by $80 million.
The CRC program will be reviewed and faces an uncertain future. As a result of the funding cut, the 17th selection round of the CRC program will not proceed.
CSIRO is the largest single participant in the CRC program and is involved in twenty separate projects the six sectors of the program.
5. Industry programs axed
The budget papers reveal a massive, $845.6 million cut to industry programs. The affected programs include Industry Innovation Precincts, Enterprise Connect, Commercialisation Australia and the Innovation Investment Fund to name a few.
The Government plans to establish a new Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme over five years with funding of $484.2 million.
According to the budget papers, this program will focus on “supporting the commercialisation of good ideas, job creation and lifting the capability of small business, the provision of market and industry information, and the facilitation of access to business management advice and skills from experienced private sector providers and researchers.”
6. Water research
While the impact on CSIRO’s water research is still to be determined, there were big cuts to water research in management in the budget. The Office of Water Science Research program will be wound up and the National Water Commission will also be abolished.
Over $400 million will be slashed from the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure program and the Water Resources Assessment and Research Grant program will also end in 2017-18.
7. Operational funding for RV Investigator
CSIRO will receive an additional $65.7 million over the estimates for the Marine National Facility to operate the new research vessel, the RV Investigator.
However the CSIRO will have to stump up a further $21.2 million from within its existing resources to keep the new boat afloat. The funding is estimated to cover operations for 180 days at sea each year – substantially less than the anticipated capacity of 300 days per year.
8. Money for the Antarctic
There is some positive news for research in the Antarctic. The Government will provide $24 million for a new Antarctic Gateway Partnership. Its aim is to encourage scientific collaboration between the University of Tasmania, the CSIRO and the Australian Antarctic Division.
The Government will also provide $68 million to maintain functions supporting Australia’s presence in the Antarctic including maintenance of station operations, compensation for the increased costs of shipping and fuel and the continued operation of the air link between Hobart and Antarctica.
What about other public sector science agencies?
- ANSTO: facing an across the board funding cut of $27.6 million over the estimates. However, ANSTO will receive an additional $31.6 million towards the costs of operating the Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) nuclear research reactor at full capacity. The Government will provide $45.0 million over five years send two shipments of spent nuclear fuel assemblies from the OPAL to the United States for processing and permanent storage.
- AIMS: The budget of the Australian Institute of Marine Science will be cut by $7.8 million.
- GBRMPA: $2.8 million will be cut from GBRMPA. Government will continue to provide $108.0 million to the Authority to manage the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
- ARC: The Australian Research Council’s administered funding will be cut by $74.9 million over three years.
- BOM: The Bureau of Meteorology faces a funding cut of $10 million over four years. BOM’s capacity to deliver climate research is also likely to be affected by the effective cessation of the Australian Climate Change Science program.
- DSTO: The Defence Science and Technology Organisation are reportedly facing a budget cut of $120 million.
- NICTA – Australia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Research Centre of Excellence will not receive any further Federal Government funding after June 2016.
- Geoscience Australia – While Geoscience Australia did not receive any additional funding cut – apart from the increased efficiency dividend – the organisation is forecast to shed 96 jobs.