Ginninderra sale must not come at the expense of jobs or research

ginninderraCSIRO management have confirmed moves to explore the rezoning and eventual sale of Canberra’s Ginninderra Field Station.

The Ginniderra site – measuring over 701 hectares – was established in 1960 and has functioned as an agricultural research facility.

Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said the news would come as little surprise to Staff Association members working at Ginnanderra.

“Essentially it has been on the cards for a while and our members on site have anticipated that it would at some point, be converted to residential land as Canberra’s northern suburbs expand,” Mr Popovski said.

Demand for housing

Management have made a request to the National Capital Authority (NCA) to include Ginninderra as an urban area in the National Capital Plan draft amendment which is due to be released for consultation next month.

“The land is currently national land, so we’ve asked for the NCA to include it for consideration as urban land, as opposed to its current classification as hills, ridges and buffers and for scientific use,” said CSIRO General Manager (Business and Infrastructure) Mark Wallis.

“They’ve indicated to us their acceptance to include our request for that land in the amendment that will be out for consultation in September. In that consultation, people will be able to provide feedback on the proposed change.

“There have been repeated reports in the media on land supply (for housing) and we see this as an opportunity,” Mr Wallis said.

Jobs and research must be protected

In an email to staff, CSIRO Agriculture Flagship Director John Manners said the Ginninderra Station had made a major contribution to Australian science, specifically through the development of “novel grains and sustainable and productive agriculture systems.”

However “the Ginninderra Field Station is larger than we require for the continuation of our science. We will continue the work we are conducting on site, and over the past few months have been working together to identify a new site. I am pleased to let you all know that we are very close to securing a new site,” Dr Manners said.

Mr Popovski warned that CSIRO jobs and research must be protected.

“It’s important that any transition to a new site does not result in any job losses. Future agricultural research must be facilitated at the new site and staff affected by the move must be meaningfully consulted in an open and transparent process,” Mr Popovski said.

Final decision still to be made

While confirming the rezoning application to the NCA for consideration, Mr Wallis said a final decision had yet to be made.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said warned that “a lengthy and complex federal process” would accompany any eventual sale of the Ginninderra Station.

“There are robust ACT planning processes that will follow… the ACT government will keep a very close eye on this and make sure Canberra’s voice is heard at every stage,” Mr Barr said.

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