By ERWIN CHLANDA
CSIRO will neither confirm nor deny reports from a well informed source that the Alice Springs office of the national research organisation will be closed.
A spokesman says the process “of the announced restructure of areas of CSIRO” is at its beginning and no decision has been made as yet about Alice Springs.
“All business units are in discussion about further operations.”
The Alice Springs News Online understands that there are only three staff left in an office that had more than a dozen.
If the Alice office closes there will be no CSIRO presence in Central Australia, with the nearest offices in Adelaide and Darwin, respectively.
In June 2014 local staff protested against cuts: “We have an office of twelve staff, two honorary fellows, and also host several postgraduate students and visiting researcher,” Dr Jocelyn Davies told the News at the time (photo, above right, by the ABC).
The significant presence in The Alice of CSIRO personnel was highlighted in November 2009 when staff, past and present, gathered to farewell the laboratory that had housed them over the past 31 years.
Reported the house magazine, Ciroscope (source of the photo at left): “Mark Stafford Smith, Climate Adaptation Flagship Science Director, returned to Alice Springs for the event having worked at the lab for 18 years before taking up the position of inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre.
“Steve Morton, Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals Group Executive, based at the lab for 10 years also attended the farewell, joining in the celebrations, yarns, awards and recollections of events in the old building.
“Margaret Friedel, who was recently recognised by the organisation for 35 years of service, highlighted the extraordinary growth in the team’s research scope over the past 31 years.
“CSIRO staff will relocate to the modern purpose-built offices in the Desert Knowledge Precinct which provides a national and international focal point for desert knowledge activities.”
This marks the beginning of a new era, Ciroscope commented.
Minister Christopher Pyne, when asked for a comment, emailed this: “The CSIRO is an independent statutory agency governed by a board of directors. The board in conjunction with senior management are responsible for operations, including staffing, and setting the CSIRO’s priorities.”
UPDATE March 3
Senator Scullion said today he has written to Minister Pyne to seek an urgent update on the future of the CSIRO office in Alice Springs.
He says he believes the Alice Springs office undertakes important research that is highly relevant to people living in and around Central Australia and is concerned at reports local jobs could be lost.
By ERWIN CHLANDA