Visiting Hobart today, the Shadow Minister for Research and Innovation, Senator Kim Carr, said Tony Abbott needs to use next week’s Budget to repair the damage done by its savage cuts to Tasmanian science and research, instead of simply trying to save his own job.
And he should start by properly funding Australia’s only blue water research vessel – CSIRO’s RV Investigator.
The Abbott Government’s first Budget ripped $3 billion from Australia’s science, research and innovation system, demolishing successful programs that were helping to deliver the jobs of the future.
“These reckless and short-sighted cuts included slashing CSIRO funding by $115 million, leading to the largest job losses in the organisation’s history,” Senator Carr said.
“Tony Abbott must understand the damage he’s done to Australian science in his first 20 months – and do something to reverse the brain drain.”
Senator Carr said the former Labor Government had committed $120 million to build the RV Investigator after the Howard Government had spent years neglecting its predecessor vessel, the RV Southern Surveyor.
“I’m very proud of the investments Labor made in Tasmanian science and research,” said Senator Carr, “and particularly in getting the RV Investigator built.”
But now Tasmanian science and research has been hit hard by the Abbott Government’s neglect, with:
· 76 jobs lost at CSIRO’s world class research labs and staff morale at rock bottom;
· $30 million a year planned to be cut from the University of Tasmania under Tony Abbott’s plan for $100,000 degrees; and
· The RV Investigator funded to perform just 60 per cent of the science it was designed for.
Senator for Tasmania Carol Brown said the Abbott Government’s cuts have been devastating to Tasmanian science, with major job losses in ocean and climate science – something Tasmania is recognised for around the world.
“The Investigator is capable of spending 300 days a year at sea on research voyages but the Abbott Government’s first Budget only allocated sufficient funds for 180 days a year at sea,” Senator Brown said.
This means that the Investigator will spend an extra 120 days a year in Hobart doing very little, when it could be at sea making new discoveries to support our marine economy and environment.
Senator for Tasmania Lisa Singh said it was the Abbott Government’s responsibility to properly fund this vessel so that it could continue to support critical marine, atmospheric and climate research.
“CSIRO officials have confirmed that it would only cost another $7 million a year for them to lift the Investigator’s operating capacity from 180 days at sea to the full 300 that it was designed for,” Senator Singh said.
“That’s 33 per cent more funding for 66 per cent more output – it’s a totally false economy to withhold this funding and it just demonstrates the pettiness of the Abbott Government when it comes to investing in this nation’s future.”
It is time for Tony Abbott to stop worrying about keeping his own job and start working to create the jobs of the future – including jobs in Tasmanian science and research.
Science must be a key policy priority for Australia.