FEDERAL government funding cuts to the CSIRO are already being felt in Kingston. Marine and atmospheric research laboratories’ staff at Aspendale have been told eight research jobs will be axed.
The jobs losses come after the Abbott government slashed about $115 million from the scientific research organisation’s budget in its controversial cost-cutting April budget, putting pressure on the viability of the Aspendale facility (‘Abbott goes cold on science centre’, The News, 4/6/14).
Federal Labor member for Isaacs Mark Dreyfus and shadow minister for research Kim Carr visited the Aspendale laboratories last Friday and described Coalition government cuts to science research “a tragedy”.
“The scientists here undertake world-class work in marine and atmospheric sciences, and it’s a tragedy that some are losing their jobs and their research is to be halted,” Senator Carr said.
“CSIRO is our premier scientific research organisation, with an international reputation, but it is in the process of being gutted by a government which has no science minister, no science policy and no understanding of the benefits of scientific research.”
CSIRO Staff Association president Dr Michael Borgas said the jobs blow created “a lot of uncertainty”.
“Any funding cuts affect our ability to do scientific research and staffing levels are being cut across all CSIRO divisions,” he said.
“Ideally, we would rather do more research – not less.”
Mr Dreyfus was scathing in his assessment of the Abbott government’s budget cuts.
“The Abbott Government’s budget is not only heartless – it is also brainless,” he said.
“For decades this facility has provided a source of ongoing employment in my electorate, while contributing nationally and globally through its ground-breaking scientific research.”
The CSIRO laboratories at Aspendale are a hub for marine and atmospheric research. Scientists analyse ice core samples, air quality, pollution and undertake climate and atmospheric modelling research at the Aspendale laboratories.
At a recent Senates estimates, CSIRO CEO Dr Megan Clarke hinted Aspendale staff may be transferred to premises at Clayton as part of a consolidation strategy.
“We have been looking at both the strategic opportunities and the funding opportunities to consolidate that [site] to Clayton. We have not made that move or clarified that timetable but we have for a long time signalled our intent to consolidate our footprint in Victoria, in Clayton,” Dr Clark said.