The 2014 Federal Budget was harsh on plenty of Australians, but science took an especially rough beating. Beyond new funding for medical research, Aussie scientists have had $150 million cut from their bottom lines, and $115 million is being stripped from CSIRO. Workers from the country's peak science research organisation are protesting the cuts, holding meetings to express their displeasure.
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First reported by iTnews, the protests will run today and Thursday across regional CSIRO operations including the Geraldton radio telescope and the organisation's research centre in Newcastle. Today's lunchtime protests are for CSIRO's regional offices, while Thursday is the set date for metropolitan installations.
The union responsible for member CSIRO staff, the CPSU, says the "savage" direct and indirect Federal Budget measures will cause a crisis for the organisation, with a total of 700 roles across Australia likely to go as part of the cuts. If these go through, CSIRO will have up to 20 per cent less staff by the end of 2016 than it had at the start of 2013. CSIRO Staff Association acting secretary Dr Michael Borgas, also the principal research scientist at CSIRO, said in a statement that the job losses would be the largest in the organisation's history.
According to the CSIRO Staff Association, regional sites are even more vulnerable to cuts from the implications of the 2014 Budget, with the $115 million drop in funding likely to lead to jobs lost, research abandoned and some sites closed completely. Australia's chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, put out a statement following the May budget saying that he was "concerned" at the cuts to science, suggesting that the country risked being left at a disadvantage compared to other nations in the region and worldwide which are increasing their investments in scientific research. [iTnews]
The CSIRO Staff Association's posters for the protest meetings.