Scientists took to the streets in various Australian cities to protest coming job cuts due to a decline in funding for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), ScienceInsider reports. CSIRO is Australia's national science agency.
“Scientists are not known for rushing to the barricades,” says Anthony Keenan of the CSIRO Staff Association.
The Australian government decided recently to cut the CSIRO budget by some 16 percent — AU$115 million — over the course of four years. This, ScienceInsider says, could mean that as many as 420 staff scientists could be out of a job by next June, bringing the agency's staffing level to 2,500 fewer positions that it had in the 1990s and 1,000 fewer positions than in 2013.
"It's no exaggeration to say the CSIRO faces a jobs crisis. … We could be looking at the largest reduction in staffing at CSIRO in the organization's history," Michael Borga, the acting secretary of the CSIRO staff association, tells the Age.
Keenan notes that while CSIRO workers are concerned about job cuts, they are also worried about the government's approach to science. According to ScienceInsider, this government is the first since 1931 to lack a science minister.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane tells the Age that the government is making strategic investments in science and research, focusing on areas of national priority that would yield long-term benefits. He notes that CSIRO is to receive $3 billion in funding over four years.