- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2006

SYDNEY, Australia (Agence France-Presse) — Three scientists who worked at the Australian science agency said this week that they were pressured to keep their views on climate change to themselves to avoid clashing with government policy.

The government has denied muzzling the scientists, whose claims follow those of a top NASA scientist who last month accused the Bush administration of trying to silence him.

The three, who worked for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), said their views were censored because they could reflect badly on government policy.

Former CSIRO climate director Graeme Pearman told ABC television that he was censored “at least half a dozen times” during his final year at the agency, but never directly by the government.

“I was told I couldn’t say anything that indicated that I disagreed with government policy, and I presume that meant federal government policy,” Mr. Pearman said. He said CSIRO was “enormously frightened” of interpretations of his work as being critical of government policy.

CSIRO executive Steve Morton said he ordered Mr. Pearman not to participate in one discussion “which clearly had policy prescriptions in it.”

“I asked him not to talk about the targets and the time frame in which greenhouse-gas reductions should be made,” Mr. Morton said.

Barney Foran, who recently retired from CSIRO, said he had been asked by Prime Minister John Howard’s office not to discuss ethanol as part of his work on biofuels.

The third scientist, Barrie Pittock, said he was asked to remove sensitive information about the impact of climate change from a government publication.

“I was asked to talk about the science of climate change, the impacts and the possible adaptions, but I was expressly told not to talk about … how you might reduce greenhouse gases,” he said.

Environment Minister Ian Campbell said the government had not instigated censorship at CSIRO, which is an independent agency.

“It is certainly not a situation which is condoned by the Australian government,” he said.

Opposition politicians are seeking an inquiry.

“We want to make sure that our scientists can speak freely,” said Labor Party legislator Jenny Macklin. “We cannot afford to have these scientists gagged.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide