The important work of CSIRO’s flagship Energy Centre in Newcastle is being compromised by an arbitrary staffing cap.
Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon and Shadow Minister for Science, Employment and Industry Brendan O’Connor met with Newcastle representatives from the CSIRO Staffing Association today to discuss the issue.
“Labor is concerned that the Morrison Government’s cap on public sector staffing numbers is hurting the CSIRO and undermining its role in advancing science and innovation,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The CSIRO staff association recently made a submission to a Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry outlining the impact of the 5,193 person cap on full time staff on Australia’s scientific capability.
“The submission highlights reports of increased use of external contractors, which is putting a number of major projects at risk and is sidestepping secure local jobs.”
Ms Claydon said, “The Government’s irrational Average Staffing Level policy has capped staff numbers at 2006/7 numbers. This has essentially created a staffing freeze that is forcing CSIRO researchers to fill vacancies with external contractors at a premium price.
“Staff have told me that job vacancies are being placed on hold even if projects have private external funding.
“Not only does this mean that taxpayers are spending more to get less, this also undermines the pay and conditions of existing workers and locking a generation of STEM graduates out of long-term scientific work.”
Mr O’Connor said research and innovation like that at the CSIRO is under threat under the Morrison Government which is overseeing an overall downward trend in R&D under their watch.
“This is the world-class institution that invented wifi, plastic bank notes and Aerogard, to name just a few,” Mr O’Connor said.
“It’s foolish to shackle Australia’s top scientists from making new important breakthroughs.
“The Morrison Government has no regard for scientists and this staffing cap is a clear continuation of their war on science.”