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Chronicle of the decline of the CSIRO and Australian science

Discussion in 'Science' started by xoameister, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. xoameister

    xoameister (Banned or Deleted)

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    The CSIRO has been steadily reducing its headcount for a long time now (since 1999), reflecting the diminished role that science plays in an Australian economy increasingly dominated by real estate, coal, and iron ore.

    While the government itself admits that 600 positions will be cut, CSIRO workers fear that 1400 jobs may go within a year. This would be nearly a quarter of the agency's workforce. This is on top of the many cuts which have been made since 2008.

    The demise of the CSIRO is especially concerning given the failure of corporate Australia to invest in either pure science or applied R&D. Australia's private-sector R&D spend is the lowest in the OECD as a proportion GDP.


    ***
    CSIRO staff to take job cuts fight to Fair Work Commission

    Updated Fri 20 Dec 2013, 12:46pm AEDT

    The CSIRO Staff Association plans to take Australia's premier research and science organisation to the Fair Work Commission over its decision to cut hundreds of jobs.

    The Federal Government says up to 600 non-permanent CSIRO employees, including scientists and support staff, could lose their jobs as part of the organisation's hiring freeze.

    But the staff association believes that number will be closer to 1,400.

    [...]


    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-20/staff-to-take-csiro-to-fair-work-commission/5169072
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
    seditious likes this.
  2. chip

    chip Member

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    The non-permanent staff are mostly early career researchers, on contracts funded by grants. This is a fantastic way of killing off the careers of the next generation of scientsts, or at best driving them overseas.
     
  3. power

    power Member

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    gotta save money somehow, Science isn't real anyway is it? :rolleyes::confused:
     
  4. elementalelf

    elementalelf Member

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    Without making any claims of authority in the subject, I was under the impression that Australia had only really made a significant academic impact in the fields of microbiology/biochem, not in any other disciplines(phys/chem/etc.)

    I was also under the impression that the vast majority of research are university based. Perhaps the impact of this isn't as all-consuming as everyone thinks?

    That's not saying that 600 people losing their jobs is a good thing... Just that I'd be interested in what real impact this will have on scientific research in Australia.
     
  5. Romen

    Romen Member

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    It's difficult to make much of an impact with such limited resources. Btw, do you use WiFi? :p
     
  6. imajican

    imajican Member

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  7. chip

    chip Member

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    Yeah, you're waaaaaay off the mark here. Obviously, we are the best in the world when it comes to ecology/zoology/botany/agriculture of this continent, but Australian science is as good as any in the world in a laundry list of disciplines. We do not have the across-the-board strength that larger countries have, and as a % of GDP our spending is weak, but we still do pretty well. In particular, I've noticed that Australian early career researchers in the life and physical sciences are far more resourceful and better problem solvers than their Anglophone counterparts (with the exception of the Stanford/MIT crowd).

    While the sum of all scientists employed outside the CSIRO is quite likely greater than those employed within it, it's not an apples for apples compariosn. While unis do a lot of basic research, the CSIRO is by far the largest applied research organisation in the country. (The DSTO employs a more engineers than scientists.) Check out what the 'I' in CSIRO stands for, and read up on the organisation's history. The CSIRO does a lot of important research for Australian industry, and a lot of that is only relevant to Australian conditions so we can't rely on it being done overseas. It also employs a recognised world leaders in particular disciplines, although since the Howard government, increased corporatisation and political pressure has been driving them out. 600-1300 research staff is an enormous number to lose in Australia, as we have such a small research sector. They're unlikely to find many opportunities in Australian universities, which are having their own administrative and research funding reduced.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    xoameister

    xoameister (Banned or Deleted)

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    Bern Edit: As you seem to be a "New Member" I'm giving you a warning, lift your game and stop the trolling or your stay will be a short one.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2013
  9. Lasmi

    Lasmi Member

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    It's not just your view it's the view of anyone with half a brain in their head who understands it's an investment and the return can be enormous.
     
  10. water_ling

    water_ling Member

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    I'll support CSIRO

    Hands off my science, Tony (Costello) Abbot!
     
  11. hippyhippy

    hippyhippy Member

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    Who needs science when we got rocks and houses we can sell to china. Tony the young earth creationist doesn't believe in science lol
     
  12. OP
    OP
    xoameister

    xoameister (Banned or Deleted)

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    What do you expect? The Australian people don't want their leaders to have any knowledge of science. They want empty slogans and bonuses.

    Tony Abbot: Bachelor of Laws
    Peter Costello: Bachelor of Laws
    Joe Hockey: Bachelor of Laws
    Malcolm Turnbull: Bachelor of Laws
    Christopher Pyne: Bachelor of Laws
    Julie Bishop: Bachelor of Laws
    Bill Shorten: Bachelor of Laws
    Eric Abetz: Bachelor of Laws
    Penny Wong: Bachelor of Laws
     
  13. Nam Taf

    Nam Taf Member

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    The problem is that the returns the CSIRO produce are not directly observed by the vast majority that beefit from them. No one realises that the wifi networks they use daily were pioneered by the CSIRO. Never mind the legion of faming advancements that allow our country to feed much of its population with locally-grown produce, to mention but one of many examples.

    Science education and scientific industry benefit is woefully undersold in this country. We don't realise what we have in the CSIRO - they're basically our version of the Bell Labs except that they're uniquely positioned to be relatively protected from capitalist pressures, allowing them to take the long bets that have bigger reward. The benefit they deliver our country cannot be understated.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2013
  14. Foliage

    Foliage Member

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    Sad, I wish they would see the long term issues with doing this.
     
  15. Ratzz

    Ratzz Member

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    You cared enough to create the thread apparently.

    And that sentiment appears to be echoed here.


    But in the middle of it all, you throw this crap in.




    As to the topic, they should be tripling CSIRO's budget, not cutting it. The contribution they have made to this country is massive, and needed more than ever in a modern environment. But it appears we are just going to trust in God instead.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2013
  16. OP
    OP
    xoameister

    xoameister (Banned or Deleted)

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    More aspiring scientists are realising that science has no future in Australia, and are either emigrating overseas or choosing entirely different professions.


    ***
    Hanging up their labcoats: Australia's new brain drain

    Tim Nielsen
    16 January 2014

    Faced with limited job opportunities, disenchanted young researchers are giving up on careers in science.

    [...]

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/01/16/3926579.htm
     
  17. antipody

    antipody Member

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    With an engineering degree and a PhD, I've been looking at the jobs market for a few years (now including postdocs) and have never known opportunities to be so thin on the ground - state government, federal govt, the ridiculously limited private sector - as a whole scientific careers have just been wiped out.

    It's bad for scientists and researchers, but the real tragedy is the damage it does to our country and the world. There is so much science and R&D that should be funded and simply isn't because the career choice is so unappealing, the financial backing simply absent.

    Europe is bad right now and I reckon the US has gotten harder too. It's really depressing.

    I think the best way to do science in Australia (if you're not a complete grant machine) is sadly to get another job you like and try and get a period of absence from your more secure employment to do the science you want to do. This is how I'm hoping to set up a postdoc position. When it comes to a career, you really want to have long term security of employment behind you because as this article points out quite accurately, the working conditions in science (in the few continuously defunded places jobs exist) are extremely tough and very few positions come with more than a few years committed funds. :(
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  18. Romen

    Romen Member

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    Will be interesting to how the industry does go. I finish my chemistry major by the end of next year, unless I do honours, and I'm wondering what job to actually go in to. Or whether or not I go overseas.
     
  19. OP
    OP
    xoameister

    xoameister (Banned or Deleted)

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    While many scientists wait to learn whether they will still have a job, government bureaucrats have decreed that the CSIRO's scientists need, on average, only 14 sqm of working area each.

    This has come about because many CSIRO laboratories are being closed, and the surviving staff need to be compressed into a smaller space.

    With the collapse of Australia's manufacturing sector, and sharp downturn in mining, some analysts had hoped that scientific research and R&D could fill the void. That is highly unlikely, given our society's ingrained disrespect for science and new ideas.
     
  20. Foliage

    Foliage Member

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    Bit extreme, I don't think society so much as the government is the issue.
     

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