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Review of CSIRO’s foreign research activities is critical

Media statement to The Australian Newspaper

It is regrettable that the CSIRO has not been transparent about its high-risk foreign research activities.

Its response to legitimate concerns I raised last year about its work with Chinese scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Technology was unimpressive, to say the least.

CSIRO should not be conducting research with foreign nationals unless it is strictly in the national interest.  Yet, CSIRO continues to fail the transparency test.  A full review of all CSIRO foreign research programs is critical.  Australians must be confident that none of CSIRO’s foreign research activities or arrangements are jeopardising the national interest or Australia’s national security.

Why did it take so long for the CSIRO to discontinue its contentious oceans research program with the Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology?

During the most recent Senate Estimates, I questioned the head of ASIO, Mike Burgess, who raised national security concerns about this type of research.

BURGESS:            … There’s a great bit of activity around ocean temperature modelling and how that is modelled and computed. That’s great for climate understanding and climate modelling. It’s also great if you’re a submariner. It’s great research that needs to have

application over there, but it might also be useful for other things. There’s a conversation that people with more expertise than I need to have about that.

CHAIR:                  In that it might assist another country in relation to its submariner activities?

Mr Burgess:        It may well do.

I have raised my concerns with Industry Minister Christian Porter who has assured me he understands the importance of this issue.

25 June 2021

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