The Turnbull Government has been narrowly re-elected, with the Coalition likely to secure only a one or two seat majority in the House of Representatives.
The double dissolution strategy also back-fired in the Senate, as the reduced quota resulted in the election of an expanded cross bench that will wield the balance of power.
CSIRO jobs and funding firmly on the agenda
As a result of strong campaigning by CPSU and the Staff Association – aided by allies such as the Friends of CSIRO and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition – the future of CSIRO funding and jobs remains squarely on the political agenda.
Over the course of the campaign, both Labor and the Greens made significant commitments to repair spending on CSIRO to the tune of $300 million over the forward estimates. Key independent Nick Xenophon also indicated his team’s support for increased CSIRO funding.
Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski paid tribute to the campaigning efforts of union members and delegates.
“Your tremendous efforts have elevated CSIRO jobs and science to become one of the more noticeable issues in the Federal Election campaign,” Mr Popovski said. “This is the first time this has happened in recent memory and long may it continue.
“The commitments we gained from Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team were in no small part due to our collective efforts; both in the campaign itself and through the credible lobbying and advocacy of this union over many years,” Mr Popovski said.
New Ministry faces major challenges
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made several changes to his cabinet line-up that will have a direct bearing on CSIRO. For what seems an almost annual event now, CSIRO has a new Minister with the departure of Christopher Pyne to the post of Defence Industry.
Former Environment Minister Greg Hunt will become the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. Minister Hunt will be joined by New South Wales MP Craig Laundy as the Assistant Portfolio Minister.
In other changes that may interest Staff Association members, Josh Frydenberg takes on an expanded Environment and Energy Portfolio, while The National’s Senator Matt Canavan enters cabinet as Minister for Resources and Northern Australia.
“The Staff Association will write to the Minister and Assistant Minister as soon as possible seeking an urgent meeting to discuss CSIRO funding and jobs and the union’s concerns regarding the performance of the Executive Team and the level of staff morale,” Mr Popovski said.
Rights and responsibilities
We’ve produced a guide that outlines your rights during the election campaign consistent with public sector caretaker provisions.
Coalition Government record
CSIRO policy under Tony Abbott and now Malcolm Turnbull has resulted in:
- 1,300 jobs cut since 2013 – or the loss of 1 in 5 CSIRO staff members – resulting in the reduction or abandonment of research
- A hostile bargaining policy that targets CSIRO rights and working conditions while cruelling enterprise agreement negotiations
- Plans to cut more than 300 additional jobs specifically targeting public good research and trashing CSIRO’s reputation for integrity.
The CSIRO Section Council has resolved to ask the voting public to support CSIRO staff and Australian science by putting the Coalition last at the ballot box on 2 July 2016.
Labor has committed to investing $250 million in CSIRO to ensure the future of key national scientific infrastructure like “The Dish” at Parkes and the RV Investigator, as well as the $50 million it had already committed to help CSIRO to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
- Labor steps up to repair CSIRO – Media release
In particular the efforts of CSIRO to revolutionise agricultural production and help meet the challenges of climate change are showcased.
The role of science, research and innovation has been featured prominently in the 2016 campaign, especially concerning the prospects for economic growth and job creation.
However the clever rhetoric belies the stark reality that Australian spending in science and research – both public and private investment – lags well behind our OECD competitors.
Worse still, funding cuts to government laboratories – such as CSIRO – have fundamentally compromised the nation’s capacity to drive innovation.
Get active on social media
Social media is a great way to share positive messages in support of CSIRO and better science and research policies.
Use the hashtags #CSIROcuts and #supportCSIRO and #ausvotes to connect with other users and related content.
Register your support for CSIRO and public services
The Staff Association is calling on all CSIRO workers to get personally involved during this federal election campaign. All the major parties are courting votes by showcasing science and research.
However talk is cheap and fine words ring hollow without firm policy commitments. Active campaigning can help secure a better deal for CSIRO and public sector science.
The CPSU and ACTU community campaigns will involve activities in key marginal seats, including; phone calling, street stalls, leaflet handouts and door knocking.
We will also be calling on volunteers to help on polling booths on election day.
In partnership with the Staff Association and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), the CPSU has been publicly campaigning against the Coalition Government’s cuts to science and to support CSIRO.
The CPSU has also launched a public campaign called Proud to be Public, showcasing the role public services play in building a better Australia.
Friends of CSIRO is a network of concerned citizens who are campaigning to restore critical funding to CSIRO and reverse the job cuts.
Am I allowed to campaign through the election campaign, being an employee of the Commonwealth?
An officer has the right to, in a personal capacity and on personal time, campaign individually.
Our campaign strategy is public facing, so activities will most likely be held on the weekends and outside of standard working hours. Read more on your rights here.