CSIRO denies bullying problem amid accusations of a cover-up

Posted on October 18, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Transcript from ABC AM Program

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Opposition has accused the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) of trying to cover up management failures linked to allegations of bullying.

The CSIRO says it’s taking action to address a series of problems with its policies which have been identified by the Federal Government’s workplace safety agency, Comcare.

The Opposition’s science spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella says the CSIRO has a cultural problem – a claim denied by the head of the CSIRO.

Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: The Federal Opposition’s industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella says bullying is undermining one of Australia’s most respected public institutions.

SOPHIE MIRABELLA: This is damaging CSIRO’s reputation both domestically and internationally.

SIMON LAUDER: Earlier this week the chief executive of the CSIRO Dr Megan Clark sent an email to staff outlining a list of problems which have been identified by the Government’s workplace safety agency, Comcare.

Comcare has ordered the CSIRO to change its misconduct policy and make sure the management of allegations doesn’t create more risks to health and safety.

The CSIRO is also accused of failing to protect a former employee who complained about a manager only to have that manager appointed as the staff member’s point of contact.

Those details were revealed to a Senate Estimate’s hearing yesterday. Sophie Mirabella accuses the CSIRO of providing incorrect and conflicting answers to questions about bullying.

SOPHIE MIRABELLA: There have been dozens of complaints and the fact that there has been this cover-up, this misinformation given to the Senate through the Senate Estimates process does point the finger at a cover-up of persistent failures in dealing with this issue.

SIMON LAUDER: The chief executive of the CSIRO, Dr Megan Clark.

MEGAN CLARK: Look, we place a very high importance on providing accurate information to the Parliament and if there is any further information that was provided to the chair of the Senate Estimates Committee or to us, we would address it.

SIMON LAUDER: Dr Clark says she takes bullying very seriously and is implementing all of the changes recommended by Comcare.

MEGAN CLARK: We know that we’ve had three to four incidents in terms of these issues of bullying and harassment reported.

SIMON LAUDER: Is bullying a big problem at the CSIRO?

MEGAN CLARK: (long pause) No.

TONY EASTLEY: The chief executive of the CSIRO, Dr Megan Clark, speaking to Simon Lauder.

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