CSIRO cuts a body blow to Australian science

The CPSU and CSIRO Staff Association have condemned the Government over the mass axing of 350 more scientists, slashing Australia’s capacity to predict and adapt to climate change.

Today’s announcement of the wholesale job cuts over the next two years, mainly in the CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere and Land and Water divisions, is just the latest body blow by the Government to Australia’s premier science organisation.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “This staggering attack on climate science is an act of political vandalism, pure and simple, and if the Government doesn’t back down on this it’s ordinary Australians who will ultimately pay the price.”

“2015 was the hottest year on record and Australian people and businesses are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, yet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s response is to continue the Coalition’s irresponsible head-in-the-sand approach.”

“Government cuts to the CSIRO have already done untold damage, with critical research halted into Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, bowel cancer, geothermal energy and liquid fuels. This latest body blow to climate science shows the Government and CSIRO management have their priorities fundamentally wrong.”

“The fact this gutting of the CSIRO is being modelled on Netflix and Silicon Valley shows how hollow and warped Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation rhetoric really is. Taxpayer spending on science should be about improving Australian lives now and in the future, not moving CSIRO to a business model based on speculative investment rather than real science.”

“IT start-ups might be agile, but deep science cannot be simply switched on and off again. Just because there are less buzz words to describe a laboratory that excels in detailed, long-term measurement, analysis and modelling, it does not make it irrelevant.”

CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said: “CSIRO staff are deeply shocked at these retrograde plans, which would all but abandon areas of research where the CSIRO has the strongest track record and a global reputation.”

“CSIRO management has shown a sad lack of respect for staff in the way this process has been handled. I will be meeting with new CSIRO chairman David Thodey this afternoon and will be raising serious questions about the impact of today’s announcements, including on regional employment.”

“Prime Minister Turnbull likes to talk about digital disruption, but the reality is that climate change is a major disruption that cannot be ignored. How can Australia mitigate and adapt to the challenges of climate change without the CSIRO scientists doing the research?”

Further comment

3 thoughts on “CSIRO cuts a body blow to Australian science

  1. Most people agree that adapting to climate change is one of the most important challenges of the 21st century. It’s rubbish to claim that the CSIRO scientists who have contributed to the understanding and analysis of climate change are incapable of helping develop strategies for adapting to climate change. Most have already started re-orienting their research in this direction. In fact, it’s precisely those who truly understand the phenomenon who have the best chance of developing effective strategies to cope with it. Also, this research on adaption strategies must address the impacts specifically on Australia which will have low priority for overseas researchers.
    I write this as a former CSIRO scientist, now retired, who worked in quite a different field. From the 1975 Hayden budget onwards, I watched helplessly as productive long term research areas were slashed or eliminated on the whim of short-sighted chief executives and their political
    masters. Some affected scientists had to leave for abroad; others entered the ranks of the long-term unemployed. Please show solidarity with your climate change research colleagues – you could be next. Please consider all options to lead to a reversal of this shameful decision.

  2. We have heard rumours that there are 100 to go from Atmosphere which this article seems to be mostly, not all, but mostly about and there are rumours saying that there are 75 to go from Manufacturing which is this years supposed target which means another 175 for next year. From what I have heard there is a group running so far in the red to the tune of 18 million and the group I am from could be running to the tune of 4-5 hundred thousand in the red. From the wastage I have seen in starting up Lab 22 at the sacrifice of other groups I would have to say that the Governments cut is quite justified and the blame should be wholly and solely put at the senior management group in allowing these sort of criminal mismanagement of funds to occur. The amount of contracts that have been lost, that would have helped groups meet budgetary targets, due to the amount of money wasted in pie in the sky ideas, the way that senior management have turned their backs on our core science to chase their own beliefs just staggers the mind. If the senior managers were fair dinkum about saving money, they should really start at the top and get rid of themselves and start fresh with people who actually make correct decisions on how to manage the funds that are given to CSIRO to make a difference to Australia NOW and not waste money on unproven ideas that MAY help Australia. While Turnbull is in charge of how much we do or do not get in funds, what we do with them seems to be way more important and the people we have in charge now should be held accountable in a court of law for their past and present mismanagement of said funds.


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