Labor slams job cuts, funding cuts for CSIRO

A reported plan to cut Australia's chief scientific research organisation by AU$150 million has been labelled as a travesty by shadow minister assisting the leader on science, Kim Carr.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Labor's spokesperson for science, Kim Carr, has said that reported plans to cut the budget of the CSIRO are a travesty.

Fairfax Media this morning reported that the CSIRO is expecting to lose approximately 20 percent of its total government funding, or AU$150 million, in May's Federal Budget. A total of 60 percent of CSIRO's total funding comes from the government.

Carr said that the reported cuts were a travesty.

"Cuts of this magnitude to the budget of our pre-eminent publicly funded science research agency are an outrage and must be vigorously opposed by the entire scientific community and the Australian public at large," he said in a statement.

"While the government's Commission of Audit report remains secret, it is clear that the CSIRO management is responding to political signals in anticipating a major blow to its operating budget."

On Friday, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said that management had advised the CSIRO Staff Association that 300 positions are expected to go as part of the preparation for funding cuts, with CSIRO said to have lost around 10 percent, or nearly 700 positions, since the start of this financial year.

CSIRO Staff Association secretary Sam Popovski said in a statement that the cuts were the biggest the CSIRO had seen in many years.

"These are the deepest cuts to CSIRO in more than a decade — and there may be more pain to come in the Commission of Audit report and the Federal Budget," he said.

Carr said in addition to the 300 jobs cut last week, many more were at risk due to the government's recruitment freeze, and the damage cutting jobs in research would be immeasurable.

"By treating [research] with such utter contempt the government is doing great harm to Australia's national interest and putting us at an immense disadvantage in the highly competitive international science community," he said.

"The Abbott Government's only actions on science since its election has been to cut funding, the jobs of scientists and those who support scientists.

"It does not bode well for the broader science and research sector in May's budget."

Editorial standards