The CSIRO is reportedly preparing for cuts in the next federal budget worth as much as 20 per cent of its annual funding.
Fairfax papers report that executives at the institute are modelling scenarios where up to a fifth of their $757 million in Commonwealth funding would be removed. There was an expectation of about a 10 – 15 per cent reduction.
"We have to wait until budget night to see what the marching orders are," chairman Simon McKeon told Fairfax, unable to confirm figures.
"But clearly we are in an era where there is a likelihood of some belt-tightening." Last week there were reports that industry minister Ian Macfarlane had been tasked with identifying $2 billion worth of cuts across his portfolio – which includes the CSIRO – over four years.
On Friday the research institute confirmed that 300 jobs would be cut across the country, following 400 sackings last year.
Professor Les Field from the Australian Academy of Science told AM this morning that a strong research sector was important for industry and for keeping talented scientists in Australia.
"...You find [the] mining sector, the climate sector and the agricultural sector rely quite heavily on the CSIRO on their number one port of call for research activity, so it will impact on the bigger sectors that we rely on," he told the ABC.
"We need a strong research sector in Australia to maintain the critical mass of research activity that we've got here, and if there isn't a strong research sector or a research sector that is falling backwards, you will find the pressure for our younger researchers in particular to start looking elsewhere."
Ian Macfarlane did not comment when approached by the ABC or Fairfax for their stories.