Guest Post by Peter Mc, Australia
Australian science body takes a funding hit while extra money is miraculously found for religious education in state schools to the tune of a quarter of a billion dollars.
Deep cuts to the CSIRO budget will see up to 30 positions go in the organisation’s space research division and the suspension of its Bolton fellowship, one of the world’s most prestigious astronomy scholarships.
In the meantime, one of the few industries enjoying a growth spurt in Australia is the controversial, federally-funded chaplaincy program that operates in state-run schools. But before any out of work scientists start thinking about changing to a new career, there is a fly in the ointment. Recent changes to the chaplaincy program have seen non-religious staff (social workers) losing their jobs too. So unless the scientists have a strong religious stance, they will simply be under-qualified.
The Australis fellowship and a number of postdoctoral positions will also go unfilled, and the organisation will not appoint a chief scientist to head its world-leading Square Kilometre Array project, as the CSIRO scrambles to find savings after a $114m funding cut in the federal budget.
After the previous Labor government spent years working extremely hard to be a major player in the SKA project, a Chief Scientist will not be appointed. This is a worrying development from a Conservative government that broke with tradition and failed to appoint a Science Minister despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott claiming to “love Science”. For all appearances, it looks as though Mr Abbott’s close ties with the Catholic Church (established when he trained for the Priesthood) far outweigh his “love of Science”.