[ASC-media] Media Release: "CSIRO Communications in Turmoil": Fresh Facts

Australasian Science science at control.com.au
Mon Feb 28 11:11:56 EST 2005

"CSIRO Communications in Turmoil": Fresh Facts
For immediate release

On Wednesday 16 February, the finances and operations of CSIRO, the nation's
largest public agency for research, were scrutinised by the Senate Committee
on Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Legislation Committee.
(Hansard, EWRE, pp 21-42).

Australasian Science was unaware that its comprehensive reporting since 2002
on this and other controversies in CSIRO would lead to an extensive series
of questions and answers (Hansard, EWRE, pp 27-30).

In particular, Chief Executive, Dr Geoff Garrett, and Deputy Chief
Executive, Dr Ron Sandland, tried to justify withdrawing the magazine's
access to senior management. They largely repeated unspecific allegations
that Dr Garrett and 20 "CSIRO Communicators" (under the direction of the
Executive Director of Communications, Ms Donna Staunton) had promulgated
widely on 12 July 2004. The magazine's challenges for CSIRO's management and
"communicators" to produce evidence for their unprecedented action have been
met with silence.

The March issue of Australasian Science, published on Wednesday 2 March,
includes exclusive revelations on CSIRO's "communications". Extensive
documentation of the latest issues includes:

* Extracts from the stunning resignation letter of the Manager of
Communications, Mr Norman Abjørensen, who had brought a broad range of
relevant experience in media, public relations and lobbying to CSIRO on 9
August 2004 but resigned on 17 December after only 20 weeks.

* Extracts from Ms Staunton's letter to Mr Abjørensen on 21 December and her
email to communications staff that night. The two documents are startlingly

* Odd tendering processes for "media training" and lack of tendering for
consultants, including for Ms Staunton over 11 months from April 2004 at
$22,000 per month before her appointment to staff.

* Communications plans for Dr Garrett's "Flagships" that claim "media" as a
CSIRO "stakeholder" and identify two favoured press reporters, with paid
advertisements to accompany their reports.

* Dr Garrett's definition for staff of his slogan "C-Sharp", and staff
reactions that it has "no meaning".

* Discipline for any breaches of new, tight rules regulating staff
communications with the media and public.

Summaries and quotations of selected passages for reporting or review are
permissible provided AUSTRALASIAN SCIENCE MAGAZINE is credited as the source
of this story.

For emailing of the article or permission to reproduce the text
partially or in full, reporters (only) may call Editor, Guy Nolch, on (03)
9500 0015 or Senior Corespondent, Peter Pockley, on (02) 9660 6363.

Checking To assist readers in reviewing the issues from published
evidence, we have placed on the magazine's web site a wide range of facts in
our major articles relating to CSIRO from 2002 (see Features, Editorials,
conScience and Pockley's Razor). The current article will be added to the
web on 2 March.

Guy Nolch
Editor, Australasian Science
Box 2155 Wattletree Rd PO
VIC 3145 Australia
Phone 61-3-9500 0015
Fax 61-3-9500 0255
Web www.control.com.au

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