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More woe for Australia’s science agency

The staff association at Australia’s government science agency says that research ranging from astrophysics to neuroscience will be slashed and multiple research sites closed, in addition to hundreds of jobs lost, as its management struggle with budget cuts.

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) had AU$111.4 million (US$103 million) cut over four years in the first budget from the country’s new government, released earlier this month. That was predicted to lead to 500 job cuts.

Now the CSIRO Staff Association, part of the Community and Public Sector Union, says that management is planning to stop research in neurosciences and geothermal energy, and cut work on astrophysics, radio astronomy and carbon capture and storage as a result. The details are contained in an annual directions statement produced by CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark, it says.

The statement also proposes the closure of the Aspendale laboratories atmospheric centre just outside Melbourne, the Griffith laboratory irrigation-research centre in New South Wales, and an ‘e-health’ centre at the University of Queensland in Herston, says the association. Some CSIRO sites were already set to close before the budget announcement, and the staff association says that, in total, the organization will go from 56 to 48 sites.

Last week the Australian Academy of Science released an analysis of the country’s budget that warned that other agencies were also under threat, with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s annual funding dropping AU$26 million and the Cooperative Research Centres programme dropping AU$11 million. The government did win plaudits for a new AU$20-billion medical-research fund.

Nature has requested comment from CSIRO.


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