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Monday, 6 December 1999
Page: 12914


Mrs Crosio asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, upon notice, on 28 September 1999:

(1) Is the Minister able to say whether the Wool Task Force recommended in its recent draft report the closure of the CSIRO's research facility at Prospect in Western Sydney and concentrating the CSIRO's wool and animal production research at its laboratory in Chiswick, near Armidale; if so, can the Minister say on what grounds the Task Force made this recommendation; if not, why not.

(2) Is the Minister able to say whether the Wool Task Force, in its final report, withdrew its recommendation to close the CSIRO's research facility at Prospect in Western Sydney and concentrate the CSIRO's wool and animal production at its laboratory in Chiswick, near Armidale; if so, can the Minister say on what grounds the Task Force dropped this recommendation; if not, why not.

(3) Would the closure of the CSIRO's research facility at Prospect in Western Sydney (a) involve the loss of approximately 80 per cent or more of the highly skilled research staff currently stationed at Prospect and risk the closure of several research programs owing to the loss of key scientific expertise, (b) incur months of disruption to research programs of national importance to the $7 billion livestock industry that would affect producers across Australia, (c) cut established links between the CSIRO's Prospect facility and the animal nutrition, pig, dairy and veterinary pharmaceutical industries based in Western Sydney, (d) directly cost the taxpayer an estimated $10 million through redundancy pay, relocation of staff and equipment, recruitment of new staff and the construction of new biotechnology facilities at Chiswick, (e) waste the $12 million of taxpayer's money spent on upgrading the research facility at Prospect in 1995 and (f) create a precedent of providing an employment and financial benefit to a particular electorate or regional centre to the detriment of the nation's scientific and agricultural interests; if not, is he able to say why the Task Force omitted this recommendation from its final report.

(4) Does the Minister support the proposal to close the CSIRO's research facility at Prospect in Western Sydney and concentrate the CSIRO's wool and animal production research at its laboratory in Chiswick, near Armidale; if so, why; if not, why not.

(5) Will the Minister take action to ensure that the CSIRO's research facility at Prospect in Western Sydney will not be closed in order to concentrate the CSIRO's wool and animal production research at its laboratory at Chiswick, near Armidale; if not, why not.

(6) Has the Minister received representations from Members proposing the closure of the CSIRO's research facility at Prospect in Western Sydney and the concentration of the CSIRO's wool and animal production research at its laboratory in Chiswick, near Armidale: if so, (a) what Members have made such representations, (b) how many representations has the Minister received and (c) when were the representations made.


Mr Moore (Defence) —The Minister for Industry, Science and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable member's questions:

(1) The draft report of the Wool Industry Future Directions Task Force did contain a recommendation to the effect that CSIRO's animal production research at Prospect be relocated to Chiswick. Only the Chair of the Task Force could provide advice about the Task Force's reasons for including such a recommendation in its draft report.

(2) The final report of the Wool Industry Future Directions Task Force did not include any recommendation that CSIRO's research at Prospect should be relocated to Chiswick, near Armidale. Only the Chair of the Task Force could provide advice about the Task Force's reasons for choosing to omit such a recommendation from its final report.

(3) (a) I am advised by CSIRO that based on past experience, yes it could occur.

(b) I am advised by CSIRO that based on past experience, yes it could occur.

(c) CSIRO research programs in animal nutrition, pigs, veterinary pharmaceuticals and dairying would be moved further away from many of its customers, who are located in the greater Sydney region.

(d) I am advised by CSIRO that based on past experience, yes it could occur.

(e) The high technology facility at Prospect, which cost $12 million to upgrade in 1995, would need to be assessed to identify future usage but based on current information, would probably be closed.

(f) It is important that the national research effort be conducted to benefit all Australia. The New England area will be best served by the building up of research activities there through means other than the closure and relocation of an entire research facility from elsewhere.

(4) There is no formal proposal to close CSIRO's research facility at Prospect and concentrate CSIRO's wool and animal production research at Chiswick, near Armidale.

(5) Refer to answer to Question 4.

(6) (a) Yes.

(b) and (c) Representations have been received from the following members: Two letters from Mr Stuart St Clair MP, Member for New England dated 22 July 1999 and 20 October 1999. One letter from the Hon Warren Truss MP Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry dated 28 September 1999.