CSIRO cuts send wrong message

Published Thursday, 04 February, 2016 at 09:17 PM

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

I was encouraged by the Federal Government’s Science and Innovation Statement released late last year.

I thought this finally meant that the Federal Government was serious about investing in science, research and innovation – effectively getting on board with the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland agenda.

But not less than two months later we see another massive round of job cuts and restructuring at the CSIRO – our nation’s leading scientific institution.

This is on top of the 1400 jobs which have been cut from the organisation since the Federal Government came to power in 2013.

In particular, the cuts to the manufacturing division and Data61 are clearly at odds with the Prime Minister’s own signature policy of driving innovation and commercialisation outcomes from research.

If we are aspiring to be one of the world’s leading innovators, we must have scientists, entrepreneurs and startups working collaboratively to deliver tangible outcomes for Australia.

But the Federal Government is sending the wrong message internationally that Australia is not a country that values scientific excellence.

Impacts on Queensland

I will be writing to Federal Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne seeking clarification on what impact these changes will have on existing partnerships between Queensland and the CSIRO.

Queensland partners with the CSIRO extensively on issues of climate change and particularly its effects on the Great Barrier Reef.

CSIRO scientists play important roles on the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce – a body set up to save the reef – and other advisory bodies which provide key modelling and advice on the health of the reef.

Given the withdrawal of the CSIRO from climate science, what does this signal about the Federal Government’s commitment to securing the future of the Reef? 

As a state, these are the types of questions we need answers to.

I will be urging Mr Pyne to guarantee these programs remain in place as the health of the Great Barrier Reef is far too important.

Media contact: Daniel Lato 0438 830 201