Scientists to get the boot if clean energy cuts approved

Research jobs at the CSIRO face the axe if the Coalition’s proposed cuts to the clean energy research agency are approved by Parliament.

Faced with a budget cut of $115 million, some 275 staff have apparently been identified for redundancy, although the final number may be higher. Many of them are scientists contributing to long-term sea, air and climate science programs.

The restructure is geared towards focusing CSIRO’s attention on the question, as framed by chief executive Larry Marshall, of “how can we find solutions for the climate we will be living with?

The threatened jobs come on top of scores of university science positions on the chopping block if the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is de-funded as part of the government’s “budget repair” omnibus bill currently before the Parliament.

The new threat to CSIRO research comes less than a month after Science Minister Greg Hunt instructed the organisation to renew its focus on climate science, claiming it would be a “bedrock function” of the agency’s activities.

Fairfax reported on Wednesday Australia’s leading renewables researchers were warning the nation was heading towards the “clean energy valley of death” if the ARENA cuts are passed.

Privately funded energy projects have already been thrown into doubt by the uncertainty surrounding ARENA’s future, and industry lobbyists predict that worse is to come.

ARENA was established in 2012 by the Gillard government to fund research into renewable energy, and was abolished by the Abbott government in 2014.