Ebola research brawl

CUTS: Scientists at Geelong's AAHL.


Geelong research into the deadly Ebola virus has become a political football amid the state launch of science week in the city.
Greens acting leader Adam Bandt accused Federal Government of funding cuts that would undermine Ebola research at the CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratories (AAHL) in Geelong.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane hit back, accusing the Greens of alarmist and wildly distorted claims.
Mr Bandt said the Greens would move to reverse the $111 million cuts when federal parliament resumed.
The cuts would cost up to eight infectious disease research jobs at AAHL.
“I defy any Government backbencher to try justifying these cuts,” Mr Bandt said.
“Critical research at the CSIRO goes under the knife – it’s not acceptable.”
Mr Bandt said the high-containment facility housed research critical to protecting Australia from avian Influenza, SARS and the Hendra virus.
Mr Macfarlane said AAHL’s research on infectious diseases including Ebola would continue.
“CSIRO is making changes to the make-up of AAHL but advises the changes won’t compromise the ability to respond to emerging infectious disease threats such avian influenza and Hendra virus.
“Nor will there be any change to planned research with Ebola virus. Nor will the proposed changes compromise safety and security practices at AAHL.
“The Greens’ wild claims simply don’t stand up to scrutiny and they should apologise for deliberately misleading the public on this important issue.”
The public scrap erupted as Geelong hosted the National Science Week launch at Belmont’s Victorian BioScience Education Centre.
Mayor Darryn Lyons said Geelong was a science centre of excellence.
“Some of the most cutting-edge research in the world is being done in Geelong. In areas such as advanced materials manufacture and biomedical research we’re genuinely global-standard.
“The work being done by organisations such as Deakin University, CSIRO, Carbon Nexus and our health sector attracts praise from politicians, scientists and industrialists the world over.”