Dr Megan Clark has told CSIRO staff 500 jobs will go following the four-year $114.8 million budget trim.

Dr Megan Clark has told CSIRO staff 500 jobs will go following the four-year $114.8 million budget trim. Photo: Graham Tidy

Almost 1000 science and research jobs are at risk following funding cuts announced in the federal budget, according to Labor.

While the CSIRO will bear the brunt of the sector's job losses, with chief executive Megan Clark telling staff 500 jobs would go following the four-year $114.8 million budget trim, other agencies are slated to shed staff as a result of funding cuts announced last week.

Among them is the Sydney-based Australian National Nuclear Research and Development Organisation, where 64 jobs are likely to go, and the Canberra-based Geoscience Australia, which faces losing 96 jobs. Also affected are the Bureau of Meteorology, with around 58 staff job losses nationally, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, where as many as 150 jobs are at risk, and the National Health and Medical Research Council, where nine jobs are likely to go.

Some of the country's prime scientific infrastructure, such as the CSIRO's soon to be commissioned RV Investigator marine vessel, also failed to receive the funding required to operate at full capacity. The RV Investigator, which last year Senate estimates heard would cost $26 million to run for 300 days a year, has been allocated just $17.4 million for its first year of operation, rising to $18.1 million and $20.6 million in following years. This will mean the research ship operates for just 180 days a year.

Funding for the Melbourne-based Australian Synchrotron and the WA-based Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, which is still under construction, does not exist beyond two years.

Shadow research and innovation minister Kim Carr criticised the Abbott government's first budget as being ideologically driven and motivated by destroying Labor's legacy. However, he warned there was more at stake, if the nation's science capability got caught in the crossfire.

''There is an expectation that the private sector will fund these things and that's just not borne out in any reality at all,'' Senator Carr said. ''Australia's scientific capacity and our ability to compete internationally risks being undermined.''

Senator Carr said Australia's ability to collaborate with international researchers and participate in global research projects could also be compromised - at a time when nations such as China were doubling their spending on science and research every four to five years.

Australian Academy of Science secretary for science policy Professor Les Field said the cuts could not only trigger a brain drain but stall momentum that takes years to generate.

''Taken together this represents a substantial reduction in the research which can be done in Australia … this is not a good outcome for science and it's not a good outcome for the country,'' he said.

An inquiry into Australia's innovation system by the Senate economics references committee is due to begin in July, with submissions accepted until July 31.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the government was investing strategically in projects with long-term, ongoing benefits.

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