Budget 2014 - Millions cut from research

Funding for science programs slashed

The government will slash funding for the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program by $80 million with a further $111.4 million being cut from the CSIRO – the organisation that invented WiFi – over the next four years.

The Australian Research Council will also see funding cut by $74.9 million over three years, $27.6 million from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANTSO), and $120 million from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).

However, the government announced in its 2014 Budget last night that it would establish a $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund to provide extra funding for medical research.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, Dr Michael Borgas, section acting secretary at the CSIRO, said funding cuts to the agency were short-sighted and destructive.

"They will do lasting harm to CSIRO and the capacity to deliver new inventions and crucial research for the next generation of Australians,” he said.

"These cuts to public funding of CSIRO could not come at a worse time. These budget cuts will mean more science workers will lose their jobs and more important research will not be done. CSIRO management might be faced with terrible prospect of getting out of some areas of research altogether."

He added that the Coalition is already struggling with a perception problem when it comes to the science of climate change – in no small part due to its policy to remove the price on carbon and decisions to remove the Climate Commission, Climate Change Authority, Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Department of Climate change.

"Cutting funding to CRC’s may damage CSIRO research across the most important sectors of national priority: the environment, agriculture, information and communications technology, mining, medical science and technology and manufacturing," he said.

The cuts to CSIRO funding are expected to result in another 500 job losses at the agency.

Read more: New CSIRO division to focus on data-driven research

In a statement, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said the CSIRO had already spent the past 122 months struggling to cut costs, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs.

"More than 400 gone in the last nine months alone and another 300 forecast to go by the end of calendar year," the CPSU said.

Further, the CPSU believes the decision to fold the Australian Climate Change Science Program into a new National Environmental Science Program, and cut $21.7 million in funding, could damage the capacity of the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology to provide accurate advice on global warming.

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Tags CSIRODr Michael Borgas

More about Australian Nuclear Science and Technology OrganisationAustralian Research CouncilAustralian Research CouncilBureau of MeteorologyCommunity and Public Sector UnionCPSUCSIROCSIRODefence Science and Technology OrganisationTechnology

3 Comments

Hydrans

1

Do your maths, they cut under $1bn from one area of research and create a $20Bn fund in another? How is that Millions cut from research? Never let a headline get in the way of a story. $20bn research facility setup would not get enough readers?

Nerdy

2

They didn't create a $20B fund in anything. The $20B is meant to come from the GP Tax which hasn't passed the Senate so all they have done is cut.

Enjoy your Wifi.

Andrew M

3

Yes there is a $20bn medical fund coming but if the government were so serious about Australia being on the cutting edge of innovation it's important to fund all areas of research. Medical research is only one important area of research, but not the only one that needs attention. Why make cuts to the CSIRO, One of Australia's leading research facilities? It's not like our whole budget will collapse over another $111m. There seems to be an incredible hypocrisy here that such a large amount of money is allocated to funding medical research at the same time as cuts to other areas of research are somehow deemed as "necessary". If you can afford to fund $20bn you can afford to keep $111m of funding. This is NOTHING to do with wether the government can afford it or not or whether its "necessary" but everything to do with the government's priorities. It is clearly feeling threatened by the work that CSIRO do (particularly around climate change research) and wants to punish it so it will die a slow death.

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