Science gets seat at the table
Clare Colley, Science minister’s cabinet role must be backed with action from Ian Macfarlane, The Age, 22 December 2015
There is hope the renamed portfolio will mark the beginnings of a renewed focus on science in 2015.
Restoring science to the federal cabinet has been welcomed by the scientific community, but the move will need to be backed by action from the government to be more than just a name change.
Although science was already under Ian Macfarlane’s remit as Minister for Industry, Prime Minister Tony Abbott rebadged the cabinet position to “state in words” what he thought was already “obvious” as part of Sunday’s reshuffle.
Far from an attempt to appease scientists, Nobel laureate and astronomer Professor Brian Schmidt and Australian Academy of Science president Professor Andrew Holmes hailed the move as highlighting the importance of science at a time when the country sorely needed to adopt chief scientist Ian Chubb’s plan.
But CSIRO staff association secretary Sam Popovski said relabeling the portfolio would only impact the sector and the “decimated” research body if it was followed through with actions to boost science and innovation and Mr Macfarlane had “a lot of work to do”.
See Also: Nicky Phillips, ‘Chief Scientist Ian Chubb’s draft list of eight research priorities’, Brisbane Times, 21 December 2014.