Scientists group slams R&D closures

Scientists have warned business expenditure on research and development (R&D) is at chronically low levels following the closure of Ericsson laboratories and the loss of 450 jobs in Melbourne and Sydney.

Federation of Australian Science and Technological Societies (FASTS) executive director Toss Gascoigne has dubbed the closure a disaster claiming R&D expenditure in Australia as a percentage of GDP is about 0.7 per cent compared to other developed countries where it is three times as high.

Gascoigne called on the Federal Government to re-examine incentives offered to companies that undertake R&D in Australia.

The closure is part of global cost cutting measures by Ericsson and Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) national secretary Peter Tighe said the announcement of the job cuts was indicative of a global trend in the telecommunications sector.

He said the likelihood of retrenched staff being able to secure jobs in the telecommunications sector was bleak.

Victorian Shadow Minister for Technology and Innovation Victor Perton said the Ericsson lab represented almost 20 per cent of Victoria's private sector expenditure on ICT research and development.

He said Victoria has become an ICT wasteland and many of the staff will be offered redeployment to overseas offices, which will be a real brain drain for Australia.

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