Advanced manufacturing, agriculture and digital productivity are the latest research areas to be cut as a result of the Abbott Government’s short-sighted Budget.
Shadow Research Minister Senator Kim Carr said news of another 75 jobs cut at CSIRO exposed the Abbott Government’s utter hypocrisy on support for science, innovation and research in Australia.
“Tony Abbott likes to talk big about bringing science and research together with business to create growth and opportunities for Australia but his actions reveal just how hollow his words are,” Senator Carr said.
“Mr Abbott says his Industry Growth Centres ‘will foster better use by industry of Australia’s world class researchers’ but at the same time he is getting rid of the researchers.
“Who does Mr Abbott think industry will collaborate with when he is cutting some 800 jobs from Australia’s premier scientific research agency?
“The sheer absurdity of identifying food and agribusiness and advanced manufacturing sectors as two of the Government’s five ‘Growth Centres’ then slashing research in those very same areas is breathtaking.
“Perhaps Mr Abbott should take some advice from his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit on what real support for science looks like.
“Despite challenging economic circumstances, the Indian Government still managed to deliver a four per cent funding increase for science in its 2014-15 budget, which followed impressive previous annual increases of around 25 per cent in preceding years.
“Contrast this to the 2014-15 Abbott budget which cut $878 million from science and research agencies, including almost $115 million from the CSIRO.
“Indian Minister of State for Science and Technology Dr. Jitendra Singh has said that ‘all efforts would be made to make India as world’s number one power in the field of science.’ If only the Abbott Government shared this worthy ambition and backed it with such substantial investments.
“A new report out today shows the significant negative impact the Abbott Government’s cuts are having on CSIRO staff, not just those who have lost their job but also on the morale of those who remain.
“The survey of CSIRO staff revealed that the majority of respondents felt ‘challenged, threatened and uncertain about the current environment in CSIRO’.
“This is not good enough. Our scientists and researchers deserve better and Australia deserves a government that invests in our future, not seeks to push us back into the dark ages.”
TUESDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2014