Senator Gary Humphries. Photo: Colleen Petch
The Coalition has demanded the federal Labor government intervene over continued allegations of bullying at the CSIRO.
ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries and his Tasmanian colleague, Eric Abetz, said on Tuesday that either the Science Minister or the Workplace Relations Minister needed to ''stamp'' on what the Liberal senators alleged was a ''culture of bullying'' at the science and research organisation.
Fairfax Media revealed on Monday that Commonwealth workplace safety authority Comcare had issued an ''improvement notice'' in June to the CSIRO, instructing that its responses to bullying, misconduct, workplace conflict, psychological stress or injuries were not good enough.
The notice came after years of allegations of a toxic workplace culture at CSIRO, which employs about 6600 staff in 50 locations around Australia and overseas. CSIRO confirmed on Monday it had received the notice and was willing to comply.
But the Coalition senators said ministerial intervention was needed.
''We are concerned with the culture of bullying that has been exposed in the CSIRO,'' Senator Abetz said.
''The CSIRO employs 6600 of our fellow Australians, there has been a clear culture of bullying that we have sought to expose at Senate estimates.
''We now have Comcare willing to intervene with a second notice to the CSIRO, telling them to get their house in order.
''The current Minister for Science is none other than Senator Chris Evans, the previous workplace relations minister.
''One would have thought that between Senator Evans and (Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten) there would have been somebody in the Labor government willing to stamp on this issue within the CSIRO.
''What we're calling for today is for a minister to step up to the plate and tell the CSIRO to get their house in order and drive the reform that is so desperately needed.'' Asked if ''heads would roll'' at CSIRO under a Coalition government, Senator Abetz said the culture would change.
''Sophie Mirabella, our shadow minister for science, has been outspoken on this, she has indicated she totally rejects that culture of buying,'' he said.
A spokeswoman for Senator Evans said the minister had been briefed on the matter.
''He has been assured the concerns are being treated very seriously and is confident CSIRO will continue to comply with the Comcare improvement notice,'' the spokeswoman said.
Senator Humphries widened the attack, accusing the Gillard Labor government of a ''disorganised and erratic'' approach to public sector management. ''The CSIRO is a very important national institution and is very important to Canberra. This culture of workplace bullying that we have seen a light shone on today, much is wrong in the CSIRO as well as in other major workplaces around Canberra,'' Senator Humphries said.
''It concerns me that we're seeing this breakdown in the culture of the public service as public servants try to deal with this disorganised and erratic administration of the public service.''