news The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has strongly criticised the federal government over the “mass axing” of 350 more science jobs at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Making its comments along with the CSIRO Staff Association, the union said the government was “slashing Australia’s capacity to predict and adapt to climate change”.
The criticism comes following an announcement of wholesale job cuts over the next two years, primarily in the CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere and Land and Water divisions.
The job losses are “just the latest body blow by the Government to Australia’s premier science organisation”, the union 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,” said Nadine Flood, the CPSU’s National Secretary.
Adding that 2015 was the hottest year on record, she said that while Australian people and businesses are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, 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, bowl cancer, geothermal energy and liquid fuels. This latest body blow to climate science shows the Government and CSIRO management have their priorities fundamentally wrong,” Flood continued.
Government spending on science should be about improving Australian lives, not moving CSIRO to a business model based on “speculative investment rather than real science”, the National Secretary said.
“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,” she concluded.
Sam Popovski, CSIRO’s Staff Association Secretary, commented: “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.”
Popovski said he would meet with CSIRO’s new chairman, David Thodey, to raise questions about the impact of the 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,” he said. “How can Australia mitigate and adapt to the challenges of climate change without the CSIRO scientists doing the research?”