Melbourne rallies to protest cuts to public good science

Following similar events in Hobart and Canberra, CSIRO staff, supporters and members of the community turned out in droves on Saturday the 2nd April to protest plans to cut hundreds more jobs at CSIRO, including critical research being done into climate change.

Melbourne’s fickle weather wasn’t enough turn away the crowd, with just over a thousand people gathering at the State Library of Victoria, in a proud display of #supportCSIRO t-shirts and white labcoats. They were rewarded for braving the drizzle with a rousing opening speech by activist and actor, and self-described “world’s most determined unicyclist”, Samuel Johnson, whose colourful sense of humour couldn’t disguise his genuine frustration and anger at the state of science in Australia, and the current government’s position on climate change.

“The government is stacking the decks at this most critical juncture, right when our future on this planet has never faced more uncertainty,” Sam stated. “Stacking the decks at the very time when we need science most. It stinks!

“The Prime Minister may have changed,” he continued, “but the priorities of this government have not.

They’re pissing on our innovators.”

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Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus addressed the crowd next. Dreyfus has been a strong supporter of the campaign to protect CSIRO job cuts, with the Victorian Aspendale site – where many of the potentially affected scientists work – lying in his electorate. He was followed by Greens Senator Janet Rice, who spoke with passion about CSIRO’s climate change programs and the need for research, drawing on her own background in science.

As the skies cleared, CSIRO Staff Association delegates took to the stage. Led by Section President Michael Borgas, each offered the crowd a personal and unique insight into both the importance of the work they did, and how these cuts were likely to impact not just public good science, but their lives as public good scientists. They were joined by a scientist-in-training, daughter of Victorian Section Councillor Melissa Skidmore – a poignant reminder to those in attendance about just what the future holds for Australia’s budding young scientists.

Kirsty Albion, representative from the Australian Youth Climate Committee, and Amelia Telford from SEED, the Indigenous youth climate network, wrapped up the speeches, both discussing the importance of climate change research for the future of our country.

Buy your very own #supportCSIRO t-shirt here: www.supportCSIROstore.com

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