CSIRO chief executive Dr Megan Clark

28 May 2014 — Reports have surfaced that $115 million of federal budget cuts to the CSIRO will lead to 500 additional job losses on top of 300 slated to go and 400 lost since last July, as well as the channelling of funds from energy efficiency and geothermal research into unconventional gas and mining.

The CSIRO annual direction statement, written by chief executive Dr Megan Clark and obtained by Fairfax, reveals that as well as a number of branch closures, geothermal research will be scrapped while funding for energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage research will be reduced.

However, funding for unconventional gas and mining – such as coal seam and shale gas – will be increased, which Dr Clark said was due to the potential to “create significant value for our nation” and to align “strategically to national priorities”.

“We will stop our geothermal work and reduce other activities, especially in CO2 capture and efficient energy management,” Dr Clark said.

According to the CSIRO website, the energy efficient management section was working to “intelligently manage the way energy is used, transmitted and generated to reduce emissions; minimise energy consumption; and save money”.

Research on decentralised energy production and energy management is helping to improve energy efficiency, minimise energy consumption and reduce peak demand on the electricity grid, the CSIRO states.

How much funding is being reduced in the area has not yet been disclosed.

The move follows a long line of attacks to energy efficiency and renewables programs by conservative state and federal governments.

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But even a Liberal Party backbencher has labelled the cuts to the CSIRO as “incoherent”, with MP Dennis Jensen telling Parliament he was concerned about the lack of coordination around science funding, as medical funding was being increased as the same time as the CSIRO cuts.

“The thing that concerns me is the lack of coordination,” he repeated to reporters this morning.

“That you can have a massive spend on medical science but not on other sciences.”