Statement from STA CEO, Catriona Jackson
As the peak representative group for scientists working across all disciplines and at all levels, we are concerned that the proposed changes at CSIRO have the potential to damage Australia’s international reputation as a good scientific citizen.
Scientists across the nation are worried that the ongoing controversy over the changes is affecting the nation’s faith in CSIRO, as well as Australia’s capacity to conduct critical scientific work across a range of critical areas.
CSIRO occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of Australians. Australians from all walks of life believe what CSIRO says, whether it be about how to eat better and live longer, or about how our climate is changing and what to do about it. That kind of trust is a very valuable and delicate thing, especially in times of very rapid change.
We welcome the news in recent days some changes have been made to the February announcement in response to feedback, namely a centre for climate modelling. We also applaud the establishment of a scientific committee to advise Government and inform the future direction of Australia’s climate science capability and research priorities. We await further information from Environment Minister Greg Hunt on the makeup and exact role of the Committee.
But these changes do not go far enough to allay the fears of the science community. Many questions remain unanswered and many positions, across a range of critical research areas, are still in jeopardy.
We understand the intense budget pressure facing CSIRO after the 2014 $114 million Federal Budget cut. We also appreciate the intent of CSIRO to focus on science and its translation. Never-the-less we urge CSIRO management to further reconsider plan announced in February and ensure critical scientific work and research continues.
STA is the peak group for the nation’s 68,000 scientists and those working in technology. STA’s mission is to bring together scientists, governments, industry and the broader community to advance the role, reputation and impact of science and technology in Australia.