THE CSIRO is now regarded as “an employer of last resort” for researchers, says a scientist who once worked for the premier research organisation.
Trevor McDougall, one of the world’s leading oceanographers and his former CSIRO colleague Stuart Godfrey are worried about the effect of Federal Government spending cuts.
Prof McDougall said the CSIRO was becoming less like a research agency and more of an engineering consultancy.
“The days where CSIRO was seen as a national icon are fast disappearing,” said Prof McDougall, who is now at the University of NSW.
“It used to be that a research job at CSIRO was seen as a golden opportunity but now CSIRO is regarded as an employer of last resort.
“It only takes a funding cut of a few per cent to start this downhill process and the cuts to CSIRO by the present Government are of a magnitude that, unless reversed, guarantees this dumbing down of the CSIRO.”
The Federal Government unveiled a $115 million cut to the CSIRO in the May Budget.
Eighteen jobs are going from Hobart within weeks and more are expected in months.
Dr Godfrey was a physical oceanographer at CSIRO for 33 years before retiring.
“They have handled cuts in the past but the losses of people will affect Hobart,” he said.
“What I saw in my 33 years is that the quality of the science is extremely good and the people are hard-working.”
Hobart City Council alderman Helen Burnet last night gave a notice of motion at a committee meeting to call for a delegation to meet the CSIRO board and Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz.
The motion received unanimous support and will go to Monday’s full council meeting.
Ald Burnet said the cuts would be disastrous for Hobart’s economy, community and international prestige.
“While the state and federal governments are busy pumping money into mining and logging, what they should be doing is recognising Tasmania’s science sector as a true growth industry,” she said.