I am grateful to the Minister for Science, Christopher Pyne, for taking the time to meet with me yesterday and answer my question today in the Parliament about job losses at the CSIRO in Hobart. But regrettably his answer was deeply disappointing.
It’s simply not good enough to claim that this is entirely an operational decision by CSIRO. What the Government fails to admit is that CSIRO has been forced to make these decisions ultimately due to a succession of funding cuts by this and the previous Federal Government. This is why the Organisation cut almost 200 jobs under the previous Labor Federal Government, has already cut some 50 jobs under the current Liberal-National Coalition Government, and is set to cut up to 100 more jobs in Hobart.
The Minister also fails to recognise the personal dimension of this. Every one of these people is a human being with a family, bills to pay and professional development to pursue. While the Minister claims that there will be no net job losses, at least some of the people affected won’t be redeployed within CSIRO and will struggle to find work when all of the jobs in their field are being cut.
The advice that I have received from scientists is that these cuts will result in a serious diminution of capacity when it comes to climate change research. They will also seriously impact CSIRO’s ability to live up to its international responsibility and to perform unique research in our part of the world.
Hobart is a global centre of excellence in science and research, and in particular the study of climate science, the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic. All of this is being put at risk by a succession of governments that pay lip service to climate change and the value of science.