Article by: Hari Yellina
According to the Public Service Association [PSA], a research project researching climate-resistant crops is in jeopardy, with up to 30 research jobs in Wagga Wagga and Tamworth potentially being lost. The project is a five-year-old collaboration in between state and federal governments aimed at developing drought-resistant cultivars. The deal between the NSW DPI and Grains Research and Development Corporation was set to end on June 30th, according to a representative for the NSW DPI. A new relationship is presently being negotiated. However, a new collaboration would be contingent on funding, and PSA assistant secretary Troy Wright claims that the state government has cut funding for the current programme.
Twenty jobs in Tamworth and ten in Wagga Wagga are at risk. “[The collaboration] has come to an end. It was announced five years ago, but only three to four years ago it began,” Mr. Wright explained. “It was cut short because the state government, the Perrottet administration, decided to stop paying it. “It was a federal-state cooperation, and without the state government’s participation, the initiative would have failed.” Mr Wright said the impacted research personnel were still processing the news that they would lose their employment. “That will be really difficult because they are highly specialised.
“This government has made a big deal out of talking about jobs in the bush, and these are bush jobs, and every bush job benefits the local economy.” Mr Wright added that if a new relationship was not formed, it would have a severe impact on research. “Crops must be modified. We must create strategies for them to cope with the more difficult environment we are in. This is a critical function, as it involves conducting objective, competent, and professional research in order to better the industry.” The NSW Minister for Agriculture, Dugald Saunders, told the ABC that he was aware that the NSW DPI was in talks with the Grains Research and Development Corporation about a future relationship. Mr. Saunders did not indicate whether current jobs were secure. We’ve also reached out to the Grains Research and Development Corporation for feedback.