Australia — Government budget cuts continue to bite at Australias premier science organisation and one union says it threatens Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s direct action policy.
The CSIRO Staff Association said internal documents from the research organisation revealed dozens of scientists specialising in ecological research were now at risk while experts devoted to new carbon capture techniques could also be on shaky ground.
The association said documents obtained by the association showed management had forecast up to forty positions working in ecosystem sciences were set to go across Australia.
An association spokesman said there were fears jobs in the forestry system sciences unit which covered forest management and bushfire dynamics – would be particularly hard hit.
Up to 14 positions at the Black Mountain site in Canberra would be affected.
Another six jobs will be lost at Sandy Bay in Hobart and five from Perths Floreat Laboratory, the union said.
A total of eight positions will be cut across Queensland from CSIRO worksites in Townsville, Atherton, Brisbane and Cairns.
Four Northern Territory jobs would be cut from Darwin and Alice Springs. Victoria would lose two positions from Parkville and Highett, while Adelaide would see two positions cut at the Waite Campus.
Areas of science that will be affected include research into bio-fuels and bio-products, forestry management, bushfire dynamics and reducing animal pests and environmental pests, just to name a few, said the association’s secretary Sam Popovski.
Concerns for the future of CSIROs forestry research have been raised by the Australian Forest Products Association and Victorian Senator John Madigan. And they have a right to be worried, these cuts will be extreme.”
He said the cuts would hit research into the productivity and management of plantations and alternative timber applications such as bio-fuels and bio-products. The development of new resources devoted to carbon capture could also be affected.
For a country such as Australia, bushfire research is truly front line science,” he said.
“In the five years since the Black Saturday bushfire catastrophe in particular, CSIRO has cemented its reputation as a national specialist in fire behaviour.”
CSIROs research into understanding bushfires includes detailed reconstruction, fuel modelling, research into fire suppression and recurrence and management of the Pyrotron – a bushfire wind tunnel that allows researchers to conduct controlled experiments into fire behaviour.