CSIRO and its predecessors have spent the last 100 years building an excellent reputation in both fundamental and applied research.
Labor congratulates CSIRO on its outstanding record of achievement – from the invention of Aerogard, to polymer banknotes, to the development of 100 varieties of cotton, to the invention of Wi-Fi.
But instead of simply being a day to celebrate, today Labor stands with Australian scientists in fighting the latest round of short-sighted job cuts that are putting CSIRO’s international reputation at risk.
CSIRO is currently in a state of turmoil.
The $115 million cut from CSIRO in the Liberals’ 2014 Budget resulted in one in five employees losing their jobs, the largest job losses in the organisation’s history.
Now we’re seeing 350 more jobs proposed to be cut, including 100 jobs in climate science – leading to international condemnation that is not dying down.
The Abbott-Turnbull Government cannot escape responsibility for these cuts, after slashing $22 million from climate change science and $3 billion from science, research and innovation overall.
These cuts will do nothing but exacerbate the Liberals’ science brain drain from Australia.
Last week, we discovered that the chaos and dysfunction of the Abbott-Turnbull Government has infected the senior levels of CSIRO as it tries to implement its latest round of cuts.
Now we know senior CSIRO staff were directed to use private emails to discuss the cuts, and it appears that the organisation may have misled its own Minister about future options for its climate science.
These conditions are not conducive to a happy 100th birthday celebration.
The best birthday present that the CSIRO could get today is a Science Minister and Prime Minister who will reverse the cuts to Australia’s vital science and research capacity.
If Malcolm Turnbull was serious in his rhetoric about the importance of science and innovation, he would have acted already.
But as in many other areas, the sad fact is that Malcolm Turnbull says one thing and does another when it comes to science and innovation.