Aussie synchrotron in doubt after Victoria pulls funding
Spiked by price tag and politics
The Victorian state government has put the future of the Australia Synchotron in doubt by saying it will not continue to fund the operation of the facility.
The synchrotron, built in Melbourne by the previous ALP state government, cost A$200 million to build. However, it’s the operational cost that the new Liberal state government cites for its decision.
The Victorian state budget handed down last week didn’t provide any new funds for operating the facility, with state innovation minister Louise Asher, a long-time critic of the facility, telling The Sunday Age in Melbourne that it will “have to go through the budget expenditure and review committee process” (colloquially known in Australia as a “razor gang”).
The 3 GeV facility has never reached full operational status. It has the capacity to run 30 beams when fully funded, the Australian Synchrotron has only been able to bring nine beams into operation. This is in stark contrast to more rosy claims last year that the synchrotron was running “at 98 percent capacity”.
The synchrotron charges for “beam time”, but it has not generated sufficient income to be viable in its own right.
Last year, the facility was the centre of another political firestorm when former premier John Brumby sacked the project’s director. Even then, it was known that the facility had failed to secure funding beyond 2012. ®
we should get the priorities right
Any cent paid for scientific, peaceful research, no mater how "useless" it might seem at the time, is 100 times better than a cent paid for military equipment, even military inspired technology research.
And the budget spend WORLDWIDE for all scientific research on all levels together, including big installation like the LHC, are a fraction of what the largest nations spend in military budget EACH.
When single persons have the power direct such large sums of money according to their personal preferences and believe regardless the wider impact on the common good you KNOW something stinks in the land on Denmark.
Then again, every nation has a government no better than they deserve... :-P
And yes, there is a lot of tax money wasted everywhere for entertainment of the "panem et circensis" variety, for which we pay another premium in healthcare costs (apart from common believe watching sports has NO positive effect on your physiology- and the protagonists' achievements are NOT yours!).
Lowest common denominator got them elected
There's money for circus tricks, footy and sports, no money for research or infrastructure, and the tabloid-reading public lap it up.
Victorian state government is too busy forking over more than $50 million a year to Bernie Ecklestone to run a gran prix that nobody except the TV channels want in a city park where nobody except the government wants it.
They do a lot of worthwhile research.
The AS do do a lot of worthwhile and cutting edge science. Without such facilities a lot of scientists can't actually do their research, but have to go overseas. This facility will more than reap it's investment in terms of scientific output, but that's never attributed to the synchrotron itself but the visiting teams that do the research. These visiting teams do not have to pay to use the AS as it's a free "user facility" for academics. If they paid, then academics could not afford it.
Besides, the AS will be bringing in a lot of fringe benefits, such as companies that decide to move to a hitech area, or from companies that supply the synchrotron, or highly trained scientists moving to the area, etc.
By the arguments in this article, and Mat's above, we should cut other facilities such as the Australia Telescope National Facility, etc, or at least charge scientists millions of dollars to use it.
I'd be interested to know what real science and scientists the money should be redirected to? Medical research? (did you know a lot of medical researchers use it?)