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The Forum > Article Comments > Water: another crisis > Comments

Water: another crisis : Comments

By Bruce Haigh, published 15/3/2016

The new and brash head of CSIRO, Larry Marshall, recently announced plans to get rid of scientists from the Land and Water division.

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Many physicists do not seem to understand environmental or biological sciences or systems.
Posted by McReal, Tuesday, 15 March 2016 9:08:04 AM
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It's just another fight in the Rights war on reality.

History shows that the countries that fund pure research are generally the world leaders, technologically. As someone who works in the applied science field. I can tell you that governments are hopeless at turning a scientific idea/discovery into a commercial success.

Governments should stick to funding pure research and support commercial R & D through tax breaks.
Posted by Cobber the hound, Tuesday, 15 March 2016 9:11:55 AM
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Just so Cobber, however we just can't make it rain.

We know that all that remains is damn dams and already vastly improved and hugely less expensive desal; and moving water to where it is needed.

And all you need for that are consultant hydrologists, practical engineers, a funding paradigm and the political will! The latter seems to be all that's missing?
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Tuesday, 15 March 2016 9:26:51 AM
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Bruce - time for some straight talking. The CSIRO's mission has always been subject of debate. It combines pure research (space telescopes) with industry support (sheep and wool research and so on). CSIRO should cut back to theoretical research and the practical stuff should be paid for by industry or those representing users - water authorities. Scientists left to themselves on the practical side will research what interests them, rather than what may be directly useful and (my impression) what pleases vocal activists.

Time to make the organisation accountable.

Cobber the hound "History shows that the countries that fund pure research are generally the world leaders, technologically."
World leaders can afford pure research.. There is no evidence to suggest that research by itself benefited the countries in which the research was done..
Posted by Curmudgeon, Tuesday, 15 March 2016 9:42:37 AM
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Surely the government has some say in what a public servant does? A public servant cannot be "brash" and make decisions that affect all Australians unless that 'brashness' is okayed by an elected representative of the people? The fact that Haigh called this man an uncomplimentary name right at the beginning of his sermon, indicates that he, Haigh, has an axe to grind, and is giving us one of his usual, far-left opinions and, as usual, is not to be taken seriously.
Posted by ttbn, Tuesday, 15 March 2016 10:29:40 AM
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Itís simplistic to say that Australia is a dry continent so more water research is needed. How much (if anything) a government should spend on scientific research, how those funds should be distributed between the many possible research fields and objectives, and what the overall funding strategy should be (like the mix of private and public funds and the associated assignment of intellectual property) are all big issues that Bruce Haigh cheerfully skates over. Well, perhaps not quite Ďskatesí. He does reveal his inclinations: whatever funds the current management wants to cut ought to be preserved; whatever field the current management wants to reduce must remain top priority; whatever role the private sector plays is evil.

As a former research manager I wish it was as easy as asserting whatís important and demanding it get more funding. Key factors are not the only attractiveness and importance of the research but how feasible it will be to achieve success. Iím not saying that Larry Marshall has got it right, just that itís a tough job that Haigh appears not to understand. Certainly the CSIRO Board could make clearer how it sees the distribution of effort between industry, environment, straight scientific discovery, etc. Management decisions could then be judged against that framework
Posted by Tombee, Tuesday, 15 March 2016 12:28:22 PM
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