Local CSIRO Staff Association members and supporters are joining with other regional laboratories across Australia holding a day of protest tomorrow, Tuesday 24 June.
We do not yet know whether our Alice Springs CSIRO office will lose any of its staff but we are deeply concerned at the impact of federal government budget cuts, which will result in the loss of 700 staff across Australia over the next twelve months.
Of these job losses, 420 are due to direct government cuts and 280 as a result of organisational restructure and reductions to support functions.
These losses are in addition to 477 jobs lost so far this 2013-14 financial year, partly as a result of a federal government staff freeze operating across the public sector since last October.
We have an office of twelve staff, two honorary fellows, and also host several postgraduate students and visiting researchers.
It is not just the prospect of over 1200 science workers losing their jobs and the associated impact on their families and the communities in which they live that is causing great concern. We are also extremely concerned about the long-term impact on Australian science and society.
As a result of the budget cuts, CSIRO will cease its research altogether in areas as diverse as irrigation, colorectal cancer and geothermal energy. Other areas facing significant cuts to research include solar energy, climate adaptation, liquid fuels, soil and landscape research, biodiversity science, ground water hydrography and radio astronomy.
Science benefits flow widely and often from unexpected sources. For example, it was CSIRO’s radio astronomy research which led to the invention of WiFi technology that powers our smartphones and tablets.
Since it was established in 1953, the Alice Springs CSIRO office has contributed significantly to international understanding of how desert landscapes and livelihoods function, and methods for their conservation and improvement. Our work is widely published in books, journals, community reports and in video products.
CSIRO research on Australian deserts includes, for example, the affects of grazing, buffel grass and fire; long-term monitoring of social and ecological trends; and Aboriginal knowledge and land use patterns.
The understanding of what make deserts distinctive, resulting from recent and current CSIRO work, is crucial for sustainability and adaptation in the hotter conditions that are now upon us.
Dr JOCELYN DAVIES and local Staff Association members.
CSIRO staff in Alice Springs protest over funding cuts