Tuesday, 23 February 2016
Questions without Notice
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
The member for Denison will resume his seat. The Minister for Immigration and the member for Grayndler are continuing an interchange. I cannot hear the question, so I am going to ask the member for Denison to start again and we will start the clock again. I want to hear the question in silence.
Thank you, Speaker. This and the previous Labor government have already sacked 250 CSIRO Hobart staff and now 100 more face the axe. It is undeniable the government's funding cuts are greatly reducing Australia's ability to understand climate change, despite increasingly severe weather and rising sea levels. Universities cannot fill this gap so, Prime Minister, how will the government ensure that CSIRO's services are retained, here, to continue their vital role and meet our international responsibilities? (Time expired)
Thank you, Speaker. I thank the member for Denison for his question and I know that he feels very keenly about this issue. He came to see me about it yesterday and I have also been in constant communication with the Premier of Tasmania, Will Hodgman, and the minister in that area, Matt Groom, and arranged to have meetings between them and the head of the CSIRO, Larry Marshall, to talk through the issues that he has raised in this question and the broader issues around the CSIRO's presence in southern Tasmania, because it is an important issue.
The first thing to say about this decision by the CSIRO to change the emphasis in their climate change division is that there will be no net loss of jobs at the CSIRO because of these decisions. Three hundred and fifty positions will become redundant. Three hundred and fifty new positions will be opened up. Larry Marshall, the head of the CSIRO, has said that the science on climate change is well and truly settled, and what he would like to do, in the CSIRO, is to start focusing on mitigation and abatement, because he believes that the CSIRO is very well placed to assist not only Australia but the world in the kinds of programs and solutions to climate change that will make a difference—for example, focusing research on new crop varieties that support sustainable agriculture and food development, and developing and refining tools to assess, monitor and address environmental risks associated with agricultural practices, resulting in better use of water and fertilisers. So there will be less people in that part of the climate change division that are deciding whether climate change is real, and there will be more in that part of the division that our thinking about mitigation and abatement practices. I would have thought the Greens would support that. In fact, the member for Denison has always been concerned about these issues and the Tasmanian members of parliament from our own side would also be concerned to make sure that CSIRO is maximising its footprint in this area.
I am pleased with the progress that CSIRO is making, with respect to talking to Will Hodgman and Matt Groom and, indeed, the member for Denison. I think there will be some announcements, in the next few days, specifically about the Antarctic and ocean division that the member for Denison has been particularly concerned about. I understand that the work that is being done is to ensure that the essential services provided around the measuring of temperatures will be able to be continued through the CSIRO or through any of the other national institutions that do this kind of work. I am hopeful for positive announcements to be made soon. I would emphasise this is a decision of the CSIRO and its board and Larry Marshall doing the jobs that they are employed to do. (Time expired)