Australasia's home for timber news and information

Campaign to keep CSIRO scientists

The forestry industry is lobbying the Federal Government and the CSIRO to retain its forestry scientists and invest in the sector. Source: ABC Rural

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) said a report commissioned by the Business Council of Australia provides the evidence government needs to spend on research and development.

The ‘Building Australia’s Comparative Advantages’ report by McKinsey and Co focuses on ‘actions Government can take to foster an innovative and dynamic economy’.

It lists agriculture as a sector that can ‘win at a global scale’ suggesting a policy goal should be to ‘maximise growth and achieve a globally significant presence’.

AFPA chief executive Ross Hampton said the report places an impetus on Government to assist the growth of forestry in Australia and confirm the future of public-funded scientists.

The CSIRO Staff Association told ABC Rural it received formal advice from CSIRO management that up to 40 jobs in the ecosystem sciences division would be cut.

The unconfirmed reports include fears 33 forestry scientist jobs will be cut and has prompted a campaign by AFPA.

“We are continuing our campaign to have CSIRO and the Federal Government declare publicly that they will retain the 33 remaining forestry scientists,” said AFPA chief executive Ross Hampton.

“Eight or nine or 10 have indeed been given their notice and will be gone in six weeks time … the others are waiting to see where they land.

“We’re not going to close the gate after the horse has bolted, we would like that process stopped right now.”

Mr Hampton said Australia is likely to see its redundant CSIRO forestry scientists find work with overseas competitors.

“[They] will be going to Chile, to Vietnam, to China, to Canada, to New Zealand,” he says. “These are places where they have decided that fibre and forestry will underpin the economic growth of those countries.

“The rest of the world is backing forestry research and development, because they know … that’s where the world’s going.”

Mr Hampton said the global demand for Australian timber, as a renewable resource, would increase and create opportunities for economic growth.

“There’s timber for construction, for example, and there’s going to be more construction in the world globally in the next 40 years than has taken place in human history.

“Plus all the other things that they’re discovering you can do with fibre, things like bio-plastics, bio-fuels … cars made from plastic; they could be made from trees. “Research and development and innovation will be the way that we re-engage in this sector and that we re-empower this sector for the future.”