Australia’s New Government Decides to Reinstate Climate Research

Dramatic differences seen from photo taken before and after bleaching of the great barrier reef

Before and After Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef

Australia and Climate Change

Politics and climate change research are interlocked in a deadly dance with country heads leading and research being spun across the dance floor at a spastic pace. At one time, Australia lead in climate research with significant money and political will being thrown at the problem under the Gillard government. His party passed a successful carbon tax in 2011 and Australia’s carbon footprint had dropped. But this tax was repealed  in 2014 under the Abbott government. A climate change denier, Abbott did significant damage to Australia’s research community and country outlook on climate change. Australia changed leading party again in late 2015 and Trumbull now acts as prime minister. Under Trumbull, Australia signed the Paris agreement.

Fighting Climate Change

Prime Minister Malcolm Trumbull, formerly Australia’s Environment minister supports climate change research. He, along with the new Science minister Greg Hunt, appear to be reversing Australia’s climate change research reductions that Hunt announced earlier this year.

According to, “Hunt, who was environment minister for a decade before moving to the science portfolio after last month’s national elections, said 15 new jobs would be created and Aus$37 million (US$28 million) injected into climate research at CSIRO over the next decade.”

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Previously, Hunt remained publicly silent about the cuts that were announced in February.

According to Science.Org, “The new directive came as a surprise, given Hunt—environment minister until a recent reshuffle after the 2 July federal election—did not oppose the cuts [editor’s note: previous cuts initially eliminated 350 jobs, including 110 climate science positions but the cuts were reduced to 295 positions, including more than 60 climate and marine scientists] when they were first announced. However, he today told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) “both the prime minister [Malcolm Turnbull] and I have clear and strong views” on the importance of climate science.”

It is not clear yet whether the formerly announced cuts would be frozen but people are hopeful. Despite this possible reprieve, many highly skilled scientists already obtained other positions and will be leaving their current positions with the government.

These upheavals come at a time when reports of the die-off of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef due to bleaching rivet the public’s attention. Can Australia afford to lose a cadre of marine scientists considering increasing global temperatures are threatening the Great Barrier Reef?


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