After cutting almost $200 million over four years from CSIRO activities, including Data61, Malcolm Turnbull now appears to expect applause for returning half that amount today.
If the leaks are to be believed, Australia’s premier science agency will get back $100 million, but that will still leave it worse off under the Abbott-Turnbull Government.
The Abbott-Turnbull Government slashed the CSIRO’s budget by $115 million over four years in the 2014 Budget.
This devastating cut led to the largest job losses in the organisation’s history, with one in five CSIRO employees shown the door.
CSIRO also now has to do more with less after Malcolm Turnbull, as Communications Minister, defunded National ICT Australia (NICTA) from July 2016 – an effective cut of $84 million from ICT research.
NICTA has now merged with CSIRO, leaving CSIRO to cover all the running costs of the new entity called Data61.
Far from deserving praise, the half-reversal of CSIRO and NICTA funding cuts simply highlights the need for the Turnbull Liberals to review all their cuts to science, research and innovation, including:
$107 million from the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program
$75 million from the ARC
$27.5 million from ANSTO
$7.8 million from AIMS
$16.1 million from Geoscience Australia
$20 million from the Bureau of Meteorology
$120 million from DSTO
$174 million from the Research Training Scheme
Instead of returning only meagre funding to CSIRO in an attempt to make his government look modern and innovative, Malcolm Turnbull must commit to properly funding all of Australia’s science and research agencies.
Since the 2013 election, the Liberals have slashed support for science, research and innovation by $3 billion in total.
Labor hopes today’s announcement will do more than simply patch up some of the holes the Liberals have created in the national innovation system.
But if the CSIRO funding leak is any indication, we won’t be holding our breath.