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The consequences of Coalition penny-pinching

In 2014, when the Abbott government slashed funding to the CSIRO, one of the affected research bodies was the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, the country’s only facility capable of working with live samples of some of the most deadly diseases, including Ebola and MERS.

At the time, experts warned that this short-sightedness posed a great risk to Australia.

Director of Queensland University’s Australian Infectious Disease Research Centre Mark Walker said “Funding cuts will leave the nation exposed to new and emerging infectious disease agents. The country requires this type of expertise, as we don’t know which new virus will be a major health threat. It could be Ebola, or it could be something completely different.”

Former Australian of the Year and Nobel Laureate, Peter Doherty, described the AAHL as “an absolutely unique facility in south-east Asia,’’ and warned that Australia’s ‘‘scientifically illiterate government’’ risked losing talent to other countries, such as Singapore, which were investing in research.

A 2017 review of Australia’s biosecurity system said “the efforts of biosecurity agencies are hampered by eroding biosecurity budgets, declining and uneven capability and expertise across the jurisdictions, leadership churn (ministerial and executive), patchy coverage by formal institutions and a lack of codified practices.”

And now we are witnessing the consequences of the arrogance of politicians who ignore expert advice, be it action on climate change, water management, bushfire preparedness or global pandemics.

The Coalition government does not deserve praise for belatedly reacting to disasters that could have been foreseen or prepared for. We must not forget the part that their hubris has played in placing this country at grave risk.

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10 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    Heads should roll, but they won’t. We, the public, are the ones to suffer from the consequences of our government’s inaction and neglect.

  2. pierre wilkinson

    Hear hear
    but will the sheeple remember all the travesties visited upon us by this dysfunctional rabble of a government?

  3. Phil Pryor

    What can be done to remove, eliminate, quell, squash, avoid the P M (the Piltdown Man)?? Cuts and ruination in health, education, tax office, Centrelink, C S I R O and anything useful to the people, the community. We pay so heavily for conservative Political perverted pilfering and pruning. These anuses should be wiped from the earth, but thrive because of backing from greedy interests in money, media, mining, and the terminally idiotic country party types that have F—-d Australia with never ending stupidity.

  4. Michael Taylor

    I was only thinking of this two days ago…

    I receive CSIRO news letters – two days ago they announced that “CSIRO begins testing on COVID-19 vaccine.”

    “If only they hadn’t had their funding slashed?” I pondered. Abbott was out to get anybody and anything that was involved in the mitigation of climate change.

  5. Kaye Lee

    In 2013 CSIRO’s annual report listed 6500 staff overall. By 2015 staff level had fallen to 5100.

    The Opposition committed to lift spending on research and development from 1.8pc of gross domestic product to 3pc of GDP, to conduct a review of the national science and research priorities, and to establish a Prime Minister’s Science and Innovation Council for independent advice to government.

    But for some reason, Australians chose to elect a government who thinks spending $400 billion on weapons is more important than health, education and research.

    “In this Budget the Government is adopting sensible indexation arrangements for schools from 2018, and hospitals from 2017-18,
    and removing funding guarantees for public hospitals. These measures will achieve cumulative savings of over $80 billion by 2024-25.

    The Government will also reduce or terminate some Commonwealth payments that are ineffective or duplicate state responsibilities.
    These include National Partnership Agreements on Preventive Health, Improving Public Hospital Services and Certain Concessions for Pensioners and Seniors Card Holders.”

  6. Old bloke

    It beggars belief that the less privileged in Australia continue to vote for the party who will through ideology, hurt them…wilfully. Who will steal from them to favour those who are more privileged. How else can you explain the success of the Liberal party in Australian elections?

  7. New England Cocky

    Perhaps Kaye Lee the Biosecurity Services are not up to the job. A few years ago the NZ Chief Plant Pathologist (CPP) attended a professional conference in Melbourne at the time when NZ was trying to export apples into Australia and were prevented by the very real threat of a fungus disease known as Apple Blight, that was absent from Australia.

    On a conference tour through the Melbourne Botanic Gardens the CPP “discovered” one infected apple tree. “Now Australia will have to import NZ applies because they already have Apple Blight”. Victorian DPI staff conducted the correct sanitation protocols and prevented further infections elsewhere.

    The next day ABC Rural attended a press conference and asked a question about this matter. “Is it true that a NZ person infected that apple tree after they arrived in Australia and in time for the disease to be “discovered” miraculously during the tour”? Much shuffling of feet. “One of our listeners advises that it is impossible to infect apple trees in Australia from NZ because all the wind systems at these latitudes blow from west to east”.

    The CPP confessed to being the person who infected the apple tree in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. No action was taken by the Australian government. The Minister for Agriculture at that time was Barnyard Joke better known for threatening to kill off Hollywood dogs for breaches of quarantine regulations.

  8. totaram

    Oldbloke: It does not beggar belief. It is all too predictable. When the oligarchs own most of the “free and fearless” media, they can get just enough people to believe that black is white. As you know it only takes a swing of a few percent in a few seats to make all the difference in who wins government.

    The opinionated people who tell us that “Shorten was unelectable”, “people didn’t trust him because he knifed Rudd” etc. have no idea about anything but they keep repeating their favourite bias. As long as we have such people in the populace, we are in trouble. That is why the coalition tries to ensure that everyone is dumbed down and much easier to brainwash. And if there are enough people even in the opposing political parties who can be brainwashed, so much the better!

  9. Andrew Smith

    Science, education, facts and analysis are seen as threats to control of public narratives by radical right libertarians (including their climate science deniers vs. ‘god’), in addition to being a ‘cost’ to taxpayers e.g. Bolton’s nobbling of CDC, and Trump’s of similar agencies.

    Quite logical if viewed through the prism of aggressive neo liberal policies imported by the IPA etc. from the same in the US.

  10. Kronomex

    When the virus scare eventually peters out we will all look back on 2013 -2019 as golden days because the country will be crushed flat under the LNP giant boulders of fiscal and economic madness. As the old adage goes, “We ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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