Election 2016: Former chief scientist Penny Sackett condemns CSIRO cuts
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Election 2016: Former chief scientist Penny Sackett condemns CSIRO cuts

A former Australian chief scientist says the government has a "national and international responsibility" to reverse funding cuts to the CSIRO.

Professor Penny Sackett told a Friends of the CSIRO-organised forum in Queanbeyan on Saturday that job cuts in the climate science division of the organisation were akin to "putting on blindfolds before embarking on a long journey over rough and unfamiliar terrain".

Former chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett has called for the government to reverse CSIRO funding cuts.

Former chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett has called for the government to reverse CSIRO funding cuts.Credit:Glen McCurtayne

"The way forward is not sacking the scientific messengers and the forward scouts," she said.

Another 275 jobs are expected to be cut at the CSIRO, on top of about 1300 cut over the past two years.

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About $115 million was cut from the organisation in the 2014 budget.

Professor Sackett, who served as the country's chief scientist between 2008 and 2011 and now works with the ACT Climate Change Council, said NASA scientists had quizzed her about the cuts during a recent visit to New York.

She said the job and funding cut decisions had global repercussions.

"Simply put, the Commonwealth has a national and international responsibility to reverse the CSIRO cuts," she said.

"It is not possible to mitigate climate change effectively or adapt to its highly local effects wisely without understanding climate science itself."

Eden-Monaro Labor candidate Mike Kelly, Greens candidate Tamara Ryan, Australian Youth Climate Coalition representative Ngaire Sidhu and CPSU national president Alistair Waters also spoke at the forum.

Dr Kelly said the southern highlands and south coast were areas most at risk from climate change, with the potential for smaller Snowy Mountain snowmelts in future years.

"It really is a situation here we're all facing of the Visigoths having got inside the walls," he said.

Labor has promised to invest $250 million into the research organisation in addition to $50 million dedicated to CSIRO climate and reef science for the Great Barrier Reef.

The promise is part of a $1.2 billion commitment for science and research over four years if Labor wins the election.

But the government has disputed the measures, with Liberal Senator Eric Abetz earlier this week claiming the criticism of job cuts undermined the independence of CSIRO management.

Meanwhile, Labor has promised to lower Questacon admission prices by $7.50 if it wins the July 2 poll.

Canberra MP Gai Brodtmann said the measure, which would cost $3.7 million a year, would bring admission prices to $16 an adult and $10 a child.

The extra funding to account for the centre's revenue shortfall would cost $14.8 million over the forward estimates.

Stephen Jeffery is a producer at The Canberra Times

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