Originally written for SCG Innovation Institute in August 2013
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is the premier science agency in Australia and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world. Comprised of National Research Flagships, National Facilities and twelve research divisions which range from Astronomy and Space Science to Materials Science and Engineering, the CSIRO has a range of international standard laboratories and facilities and is currently leading Australia towards a 3D manufacturing revolution with their recent production of a powder which allows titanium products to be manufactured through 3D printers, such as titanium hip replacement joints.
Yet up to a quarter of scientists, researchers and workers at the CSIRO now stand to lose their jobs under the new federal government’s public service job freeze. This job freeze threatens the jobs of 1400 CSIRO workers and could devastate the progress of some of the organisation’s top research projects. The job freeze also comes with a ban on hiring new staff, and extending or renewing short-term contracts with the ban being effective immediately and is part of the federal government’s plan to cut 12,000 public services jobs.
This move follows the announcement last week that Australia’s Environment Minister will not be sent to attend international climate change negotiations which start in Warsaw next week and the federal cabinet recently signing off on changes which will disband or absorb department bodies into existing departments. The Abbott government also faced criticism from the scientific community when upon election they failed to nominate a dedicated science minister to their cabinet.
The actual number of jobs that will be lost is still unclear, with a CSIRO spokesman claiming the number of threatened jobs has been exaggerated by staff. The media estimates 1400, or almost one quarter of CSIRO jobs, will be axed while the CSIRO claims no more than 550 jobs will be lost and are currently trying to seek clarification on the actual number.