Scientists down tools over privatisation plans

September 15, 2000

Melbourne. Hundreds of Australian scientists from six national agencies stopped work last week to protest at plans by the federal government to outsource their information technology services.

Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Geological Survey Organisation, the Institute of Marine Science and other key bodies walked out of their laboratories to hold rallies in capital and regional cities.

They claim the move will undermine research, cost jobs and threaten scientific work. They also say that the loss of control over IT developments will stifle innovation and that the cost of negotiating with outside suppliers will come from the science budget.

John Fahey and Nick Minchin, the government's finance and science ministers, dismissed claims that IT contractors had the skills to support the centre.

They said the government was committed to ensuring there would be no degradation of the provision of IT infrastructure or the service for the science agencies.

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