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Australia Takes Razor To Public Science Spending

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Noel Towell, Mark Kenny, Bridie Smith, The Sydney Morning Herald

Almost a quarter of scientists, researchers and workers at Australia’s premier science institution will lose their jobs under the federal government’s present public service jobs freeze.

The blanket staff freeze across the public service threatens the jobs of 1400 “non-ongoing” workers at the CSIRO and could paralyse some of the organisation’s premier research projects, with a ban on hiring, extending or renewing short-term contracts effective immediately.

The impact of the freeze on the CSIRO follows fears expressed in the scientific community about the Abbott government’s failure to nominate a dedicated science minister out of his cabinet or ministerial team. The concerns have been heightened by subsequent decisions, including the closure of the global warming advisory body the Climate Change Commission, and revelations on Thursday that Australia will not be sending its Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, or any ministerial stand-in to international climate change negotiations starting on Monday in Warsaw.
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The freeze is part of the Abbott government’s plan to cut 12,000 jobs from the public service.

On Friday, the government also confirmed the immediate dismantling of a number of government advisory bodies, expert panels and national steering committees, covering diverse areas including ageing, legal affairs, ethics and animal welfare. Federal cabinet this week signed off on the changes, which will see a dozen “non-statutory” bodies axed altogether, and several more amalgamated with other bodies or absorbed into existing departmental functions.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott repeatedly promised before the election that a Coalition government would dramatically reduce the size of the bureaucracy and would do away with thousands of regulations said to be clogging the economy.

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