Incomplete inquiry still leaves questions unanswered
The following media release is provided courtesy of the office of the Shadow Minister, Sophie Mirabella
Sophie Mirabella MP Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science
Wednesday 14 August 2013
INCOMPLETE INQUIRY STILL LEAVES QUESTIONS UNANSWERED
While the Coalition will carefully consider the findings of the Pearce Inquiry into bullying and associated workplace problems at the CSIRO, we remain disappointed that potentially more than 100 cases were overlooked by the investigation.
The Pearce Inquiry was established as a direct consequence of the Coalition exposing these issues over several years. It followed us writing in late 2012 to the then Science Minister Evans, asking that a comprehensive, independent inquiry be conducted immediately.
Naturally, we therefore welcome further light being shed on these problems at the organisation.
On the basis of the 130 discrete instances of bullying and/or harassment that they have unearthed through this limited inquiry, Professor Pearce’s team has been able to identify a wide range of problems and suggested improvements to CSIRO’s existing practices and policies.
The Coalition remains concerned by what we regard as the confined scope of the investigation. It is particularly disappointing that the Terms of Reference specifically exclude consideration of the cases of people who have raised allegations of criminal conduct and/or instigated legal proceedings against CSIRO, when they are naturally likely to be the people who consider themselves to have been the most seriously affected by these issues.
As a result of these and other limitations, the inquiry has been rejected in large part by the ‘Victims of CSIRO’ group. This is bitterly disappointing for any serious review of these issues, given that the ‘Victims of CSIRO’ group has been the lead player in bringing together more than 100 CSIRO employees who allege various forms of workplace intimidation and bullying.
In circumstances where so many current and former staff do not feel comfortable about relating their experiences, we believe that it is highly unlikely that a complete and comprehensive picture of the history of bullying at CSIRO can ever emerge. It is also hard not to conclude that the extent of the problem will therefore be understated by the inquiry.
We also share the ‘Victims of CSIRO’ group’s fundamental concern that this investigation of bullying should have been conducted completely independently of the CSIRO itself, rather than reporting directly to it.