Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Jobs, Growth and... Science

By Guy Nolch

Early next month Australians will head to the election polls, and for once scientific issues have bubbled to the surface.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Both the Coalition and Labor have had their hands on the nation’s steering wheel recently enough to give a feel for how much each values science, but in the 25 years I’ve been covering science policy that value could have been likened to a Mother’s Day gift that’s been rewrapped and regifted on Father’s Day. That may well prove the case again, but for now CSIRO has been a bellwether.

“Jobs and growth” was the mantra of early Coalition campaigning, but this didn’t apply to jobs and growth at CSIRO, which earlier this year axed hundreds of jobs in areas devoted to climate change monitoring. The uproar over this led to the messy notion that some of CSIRO’s scientists could be transferred to the Bureau of Meteorology even though this would still create a net loss of scientific capacity and a budgetary black hole for the BoM.

In the meantime we’ve witnessed record temperatures, unprecedented bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and dieback of coastal mangroves. By the time you read this, the climate monitoring facility at Cape Grim will have recorded baseline atmospheric CO2 levels above 400 ppm for the first time – up from 330 ppm when Cape Grim was established in 1976. This is hardly the time to reduce our capacity in climate research,...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.