Big cuts for CSIRO predicted in May federal budget

The CSIRO is reportedly preparing for
cuts in the next federal budget worth as much as 20 per cent of its annual
funding.

Fairfax papers report that executives
at the institute are modelling scenarios where up to a fifth of their $757
million in Commonwealth funding would be removed. There was an expectation of
about a 10 – 15 per cent reduction.

“We
have to wait until budget night to see what the marching orders are,” chairman
Simon McKeon told Fairfax, unable to confirm figures.

“But clearly we are in an era where there is
a likelihood of some belt-tightening.” 
Last week there were reports that industry
minister Ian Macfarlane had been tasked with identifying $2 billion worth of
cuts across his portfolio – which includes the CSIRO – over four years.

On Friday the research institute confirmed that 300 jobs would be cut across the country, following 400 sackings last
year.

Professor Les Field from the
Australian Academy of Science told AM this morning that a strong research
sector was important for industry and for keeping talented scientists in
Australia.

“…You find [the] mining sector, the
climate sector and the agricultural sector rely quite heavily on the CSIRO on
their number one port of call for research activity, so it will impact on the
bigger sectors that we rely on,” he told the ABC.

“We need a strong research sector in
Australia to maintain the critical mass of research activity that we’ve got
here, and if there isn’t a strong research sector or a research sector that is
falling backwards, you will find the pressure for our younger researchers in
particular to start looking elsewhere.”

Ian Macfarlane did not comment when approached by the ABC or Fairfax for their stories.

Image: http://csironewsblog.com/