I’ve harboured dreams of going back into a more scientific job in a few years. I miss doing science. But I’ve realised that to do so in Australia today would be foolish.
Earlier this year I mentioned that CSIRO had had to make significant cuts following government reductions in their funding.
The bad news continues. Cuts of support staff mean that CSIRO scientists aren’t spending all their time on doing actual science. And one of our Nobel-tipped researchers has been let go.
CSIRO isn’t the only agency being affected, though; these groups are losing nearly $310m between them:
- The Australian Research Council (ARC)
- The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO)
- Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)
- Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
- Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) program
While there was to be a new $110m+ medical research fund, the unwise doctor’s visit co-payment the Liberal government proposed to deliver it is likely to be abandoned.
An opposition party will always spin hyperbole, but the Australian Labor Party makes a reasonable case that cuts to university and preventative health programs means the overall cuts to science are much bigger, despite their attempt at funding medical research. Someone who has been involved in research grant administration in North America agrees strongly with this view.
The ABC’s Fact Check department estimates that it’s true that science research spending as a percentage of GDP in Australia is as low as it’s been since they started keeping records.
It just doesn’t feel like an environment that values science.