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Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Bloodletting Down Under Continues

Federal and state budgets for the next fiscal year are going to take their toll on Australian research including, but by no means limited to, climate change. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, next year's budget will bring sizeable cuts to the CSIRO, the Australian Research Council, the Defense Science and Technology Organization, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, and the Cooperative Research Center Program. Meanwhile, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will cease to exist, although many of its current funding programs will continue.

For CSIRO, the budget cuts are anticipated to lead to the elimination of 420 staff positions over the next year, and an additional 80 in subsequent years. These cuts are in addition to the 300 positions already eliminated this fiscal year. The Australian Climate Change Science Program, which has been a key science policy initiative for year, will consolidated within a new National Environmental Science Program, with a funding cut of $21.7 million in the process. However, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility will officially continue to live on.

Meanwhile, the budget for Victoria, which was released last week, confimed that the Victorian Center for Climate Change Adaptation Research (where I had the pleasure of serving as a visiting fellow earlier this year) will not continue. That outcome is rather disappointing given the momentum around adaptation that VCCCAR has helped to create and the relationships it has helped to broker.