The future of 'the Dish' is in jeopardy due to looming science funding cuts, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says.
The union said the iconic Parkes Observatory radio telescope, featured in the beloved Australian movie of the same name, could have to close due to CSIRO cuts.
The observatory in western NSW is operated by the CSIRO, and a management briefing note leaked to Fairfax Media is said to show that the facility could have to cease operating if a funding gap of $4 million cannot be sourced externally.
The CPSU said the funding shortfall for the Dish was due to spending allocated for the Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder in Western Australia (ASKAP).
The union has written to the CSIRO seeking advice on the future of the facility.
Cuts to CSIRO threaten Parkes radio telescope: is this the end for the Dish? https://t.co/Xqnx2yIoAC— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyofEM) June 3, 2016
"The Dish is one of Australia's most recognisable scientific site and upgrades have ensured it's as relevant today as when it opened," CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said in a statement on Saturday.
"This telescope remains an absolutely vital link in the global chain of observatories and any move to close it would be an absolute insult to its rich history and the important discoveries it is yet to make.
"Each of Australia's telescope sites fulfils a clear and different role, so the construction of ASKAP is no excuse for closing sites and sacking scientists elsewhere."
The Huffington Post Australia has sought the federal government for comment.
The controversy over the future of the Dish comes amid ongoing debate about cuts to the CSIRO.
The science organisation is facing a budget cut of $115 million and some 275 staff have apparently been targeted for redundancy, according to The Conversation.
Many of the outgoing scientists are said to be long-term sea, air and climate science contributors.