Griffith's CSIRO staff shocked at closure

Staff association lead organiser Paul Girdler is demanding that the Federal Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, stand up for the CSIRO in Griffith.

Staff association lead organiser Paul Girdler is demanding that the Federal Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, stand up for the CSIRO in Griffith.

SHOCKED staff from Griffith's CSIRO laboratory have been dealt a devastating blow after learning the site will close.

The news comes after the federal government cut $111m from the CSIRO in this month's budget.

Staff association lead organiser Paul Girdler said staff working at Griffith had been blind sided by the announcement, but would not give up the fight to keep it open.

He is demanding that the Federal Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack stand up for the CSIRO in Griffith.

"This is obviously a terrible outcome. I received confirmation from the CEO today (Thursday) that it is earmarked to close but that they are yet to make a decision on when," he said.

"We are pretty unimpressed by some of the comments made by the local member.

"To say that it's got nothing to do with the budget doesn't wash. We do not accept that at all.

"If, as he is claiming this has been planned for a long time, why didn't he know and let scientists know who have been renegotiating up to $3 million in external contracts with a range of rural research and development corporations.

"I do think this is the result of budget cuts and he needs to take some responsibility.

"It's not good enough for him to roll over.

"He needs to get back in and stick up for not just the workers but the irrigation area."

The Griffith laboratory has a long and rich history in Griffith dating back to 1924 and it plays a crucial role as Australia's only dedicated irrigation research laboratory.

"CSIRO researchers at Griffith are recognised as national and international leaders in irrigation research and water savings in irrigated agriculture," Mr Girdler said

"The Griffith laboratory also pulls its weight internationally. Research in partnership with the Australia Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) aim to improve irrigation and increase productivity in the rice growing areas of Cambodia, Lao and here at home in Australia."

After meeting with CSIRO CEO Megan Clark on Wednesday, Mr McCormack confirmed Griffith would close it's doors.

"I appreciate the fact that CSIRO in Griffith has played a vital role," he said.

"And I do feel for the local people and empathise with them. It's a difficult situation.

"I've had a good discussion with Megan Clark and CSIRO has made the decision.

"Griffith CSIRO actually share a building with Murrumbidgee Irrigation and the lease for their part of the building is up in 2016.

"The CSIRO has assured me that research undertaken at its Griffith lab will continue, once the facility is closed."

CSIRO CEO Megan Clark would not be drawn on when the Griffith lab would close nor the science impacts it would have.

"That's all being worked through. It will involve conversations with our staff," she said.

"There are lots of things to consider. We are committed to CSIRO, particularly to the work being done with canola, rice, irrigation and cotton."

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