Labor would increase CSIRO funding: Shorten

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said Labor would increase funding to the CSIRO, though he did not specify by how much.

As AAP reports, the federal budget cut funding to the CSIRO by $115 million. CSIRO management said that the cuts will result in the loss of 420 full-time equivalent jobs.

The CSIRO staff association said the figure was higher and pointed to the fact that 300 jobs were also lost as the result of a recruitment freeze before the budget.

Other science and research agencies were also hit by funding cuts as the government attempted to deal with the budget deficit.

Speaking to the ABC, Shorten praised the CSIRO and said that Australia tends to have “a small country mentality” regarding science.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we have to invest more in science, and as we get close to the election you’ll see a very pro-science based Labor Party policy,” he said.

As the Australian reports, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane called Shorten’s promise “hollow” and pointed out that the former Labor Government cut CSIRO funding by $63m in 2008 and imposed an efficiency dividend on the organisation in 2013.

Meanwhile, addressing early and mid-career researchers as part of an astronomy symposium this week, incoming CSIRO boss Larry Marshall said Australian scientists should think more like entrepreneurs and become more customer focused.