WEARING lab coats and armed with signs about 80 CSIRO staff gathered outside Newcastle’s energy centre on Tuesday to protest “a blow to science research”.
In last month’s federal budget it was announced the organisation would lose $116 million nationally in funding over four years, meaning the loss of more than 500 jobs.
About 120 research and support services staff are based at the Mayfield energy centre and CSIRO Staff Association delegate Mike Collins said they were all very concerned.
He noted CSIRO staff numbers had already been knocked down significantly from a recruitment freeze and organisational restructure.
“It’s not clear exactly what the cuts will mean here at CSIRO in Newcastle,” he said.
“We do know we’ve been squeezed already in terms of efficiency measures and other cuts over the last six to eight months.
“It’s been a real blow to science research areas.
“In the next weeks we’ll begin to find out what cuts will directly affect our staff here at the energy centre.”
Speaking as an association supporter, scientist of eight years at the centre, Dr Mark Rae, said the research being done in Newcastle was extremely important.
“I do industrial control of solar towers,” he said.
“This is important to be able to build our next generation of power technology for Australia and this is technology we can sell and export overseas.
“I’m certainly worried that cuts in our funding are going to shrink our ability to do this research and I’m worried about my job.”
Kate Cavanagh’s research involves looking at integrating renewable energy into the energy grid.
“It’s important for our future energy system and the future of the energy grid,” she said, speaking as an association supporter.
“It’s important because we’re doing research to determine what the future energy grid is going to look like and what that means for every day Australians.
“Australia is very unique to the rest of the world in relation to its energy grid.
“We have large distances to cover and the structure of the grid is unique to the rest of the world.”