CSIRO Cutting Staff

June 8/Canberra, Australia/Canberra Times -- Staff members at CSIRO's food science division have been told 25 jobs will go as a result of budget squeeze across the organization.

The CSIRO Staff Association has also been notified of the job cuts, which will affect research sites in South Australia, NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

This new round of job cuts to CSIRO's food science research comes less than two years after the national science agency announced it would shed 50 jobs and close its Sydney food processing test plant in a bid to save $6 million.

However, Federal Science Minister Kim Carr has defended the job cuts, saying CSIRO "frequently reviews staffing levels to ensure the right fit with strategy."

Senator Carr said CSIRO was "looking at the structure and future staffing levels of food and nutritional sciences as it updates its strategy in this field." No final decisions had been taken, and no research facilities would be closed.

A CSIRO spokesman confirmed Food and Nutritional Sciences chief professor Martin Cole addressed staff about "issues affecting the division's finances" ahead of executive and board meetings later this month to sign off on the agency's 2010-11 budget.

"We are currently looking at the structure and future staffing levels of Food and Nutritional Sciences as we rebuild our strategy in food and nutrition. We will be investing new money to build the science basis of this important area," the spokesman said.

The division has already cut jobs in cheese research, refrigerated transport, food microbiology, process engineering, meat industry services and food chemicals safety testing.

As previously reported, documents obtained by The Canberra Times show a meeting of divisional chiefs discussed the possibility that 500 jobs could go across the organization as a result of budget pressures.

Notes from the meetings also suggest the future of the Food Futures national research flagship is being reviewed. In a briefing note to executive mangement, the flagship's director, Bruce Lee, is disparagingly referred to as having "a big whinge" about budget and staffing pressures.

Senator Carr said he would "like to make it clear that this flagship is performing exceptionally well with excellent delivery on its goals and a number of major research projects and large deals coming to fruition."

From the June 21, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition