Science Agency Staff Criticise Spin Strategy

Dr. Michael Borgas, the staff association president at CSIRO, the Australian government-funded science agency, harshly criticized the agency's censorious approach to journalists. "A business model, or even the appearance of a compliant, unquestioning propaganda-driven organisation, is not an acceptable strategy for CSIRO," he wrote. After Dr. Peter Pockley published articles critical of CSIRO management in Australasian Science, CSIRO banned interviews with him. (The ban lasted for eleven months, until June 2005.) Pockley says public attacks on Australasian Science were "orchestrated" by Donna Staunton, CSIRO's Executive Director of Communications and a former tobacco industry lobbyist. Borgas wrote that CSIRO staff association members "cannot comprehend why reasonable requests for information have become such an issue, even in the context of critical articles in Australasian Science. ... Science needs to be open to full and transparent scrutiny and often has to deal with conflict and dispute." Neither CSIRO nor Staunton responded to the Australian Financial Review's request for comment.