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Government torpedoes CSIRO Flagships.

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Senator Kim Carr

Labor Senator for Victoria Shadow Minister for Science & Research Shadow Minister for the Public Service

19/03 14 April 2003


Despite the fanfare launch of the CSIRO Flagships program in Melbourne today, the CSIRO is already facing difficulty funding its ambitious targets, said Senator Kim Carr, Shadow Minister for Science and Research.

“The Government has heavily cut CSIRO funding in real terms since 1996 and clearly now wants to get research projects and political kudos on the cheap.

“Planning and financing for the Flagship program, by the CSIRO’s admission, is incomplete, yet it is now forced to parade the Flagships prematurely for the Government’s political benefit.

“This glossy promotion takes place against a background of a declining CSIRO financial situation.

“These include 10% budget cuts being demanded from divisional heads, serious job losses across the organisation - particularly among scientists and researchers, as well as the closure of major laboratories, including the Land and Water Division’s Clay and Clay Mineralogy laboratories in Adelaide.

“It is ironic that these latest closures are laboratories with a direct relevance to at least two of the CSIRO’s nominated Flagships - A Healthy Country and Agrifood,” said Senator Carr.

“Of equal concern are rumours that CSIRO may be hit by a $30 million budget cut and that, in addition, its bid for triennial funding has been blocked for a second year in a row.

“CSIRO is already scraping the bottom of the barrel and abandoning other important research projects to provide seed funding for its Flagship program. It is clear that only an injection of public funding will allow these important research programs to proceed.

“It is equally important that collaboration across disciplines and between agencies is encouraged. But this, too, requires adequate government support. Increased collaboration must not be allowed to become code for budget savings.

“CSIRO’s head, Dr Geoff Garrett, tells us his organisation’s new mantra is “partner or perish.” Just what sort of partner will the Howard Government turn out to be?

Further information: Kim Carr 0419 563 922 Andrew Reeves 0419892159

Electoral Office: 62 Lygon St CARLTON SOUTH 3053 Ph: 03 9639 2798 Fax: 03 9639 3109 Canberra Office: Parliament house CANBERRA ACT 2600 Ph: 02 6277 3730 Fax: 02 6277 5911 Email: Toll Free Number: 1800 673 169