CSIRO declares continuing commitment to science of climate change

Australia’s leading national research agency remains firmly committed to the science of climate change, a Senate estimates hearing was told today.

The Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Dr Megan Clark, told the hearing that CSIRO’s staff included world-leading climate scientists, and CSIRO would continue to engage in atmospheric, oceanographic and other research relating to climate change.

Dr Clark was responding to questions from Senator Kim  Carr, who said that Labor welcomed CSIRO’s commitment, because during a recent visit to CSIRO facilities in Hobart many staff had told him that they feared the organisation was under pressure to reduce its involvement in climate science and stop using the words “climate change”.

Senator Carr renewed Labor’s call for the Abbott Government to fund fully CSIRO’s new maritime research vessel, the RV Investigator, which is now docked in Hobart and awaiting sea trials.

RV Investigator is capable of spending 300 days a year at sea on research voyages but the Abbott Government’s Budget allocated sufficient funds for only 180 days a year.

Senator Carr rejected claims by the Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson, that Labor had allocated no funds for operating the RV Investigator when it was in office.

“Senator Ronaldson keeps repeating this nonsense,” Senator Carr said. “But the 2013-14 Budget papers show that $12.1 million  was allocated to support the operating costs of the Investigator in its first year of operation.”

“Senator Ronaldson’s carping is particularly galling when Labor committed $120 million to build the RV Investigator after the Howard Government had spent years neglecting its predecessor vessel, the RV Southern Surveyor.”

CSIRO officers told yesterday’s hearing that the organisation is seeking funding from the private sector and international organisations to supplement the Abbott Government’s funds, so that RV Investigator could be put to sea for the full 300 days a year.

While wishing CSIRO luck in its search for external funding, Senator Carr said: “It is the Abbott Government’s responsibility to properly fund this vessel so that it can continue to support critical marine, atmospheric and climate research.”


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