CSIRO documents have revealed that decisions on the latest round of job cuts were driven by the view that public good research no longer belongs in CSIRO.
This is a highly contested view. The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne, must intervene to stop CSIRO slashing 350 jobs before it is too late.
Late today, CSIRO management agreed to delay implementation of the cuts until late April – a decision that confirms that consultation to date has been lacking.
Labor welcomes this stay of execution, but the short delay simply extends the uncertainty for staff, without any indication that the Executive Team will change its mind.
Labor is extremely concerned that on the evidence of the internal documents, CSIRO is being turned into a glorified consultancy.
In particular, it appears to be management’s view that a 100-year-old publicly funded research agency should only be doing science that can attract external revenue.
The extent to which these documents reflect government policy it is deeply disturbing.
Comments such as “Nature papers don’t cut it” and “public good is not good enough” demonstrate a culture that is not good for the organisation or the nation.
The idea that CSIRO should “eliminat[e] all capability associated with public good / Government-funded climate research” is crazy.
Australia is now looking at the permanent loss of one of the most respected climate science teams in the world – a team that makes a unique contribution to global climate science, especially when it comes to the Southern Hemisphere.
Labor believes Australia must maintain its unique contribution to climate science and that CSIRO’s public good research is as important as its work with industry.
CSIRO officials have given evidence before Senate Committees that public good research is not being cut because of its inability to attract external revenue.
Looking at these documents, it appears that CSIRO’s senior management team may have misled both Senators and their own Minister.
CSIRO CEO, Dr Larry Marshall, also claimed point blank at Estimates that CSIRO’s decision-making in was not driven by external revenue or earning targets.
It is now clear that this statement was just wrong.
The tabled documents show that capacity to generate external revenue was the primary consideration of which areas would be cut and which retained in the Oceans and Atmosphere Division.
Why would CSIRO’s Executive Team have taken this decision unless they thought they were following the wishes of the government of the day?
Why has Christopher Pyne done nothing at all about a decision that has already seriously damaged CSIRO’s morale and international reputation?
The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s $115 million cut to CSIRO and this bungled restructure are fuelling the science brain drain Christopher Pyne started as research minister.
If Christopher Pyne won’t do anything, Malcolm Turnbull must step in and act decisively in support of Australian science.
Labor is once again calling on the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne, to direct CSIRO management to delay implementation of the latest job cuts until after the election.
If he doesn’t, Australians will clearly understand that his claim to the mantle of Innovation Prime Minister is nothing more than hot air.