Science at the heart of Australia's future

Minister Ian Macfarlane speaking at the Science Meets Parliament dinner

Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP addresses over 200 scientists at
Science meets Parliament, Parliament House. 24 March, 2015.  Photo by Lorna Sim. Courtesy of 
Science and Technology Australia.


At Science Meets Parliament on 24 March, the Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane, outlined the Australian Government’s approach to developing a national science policy that will capitalise on our national strengths and underpin a nimble, prosperous Australian economy.

“Science is important to every Australian, every day of their lives. I want to start a conversation with scientists, industry and the community as we put in place a new approach to science policy that builds stronger connections between research and industry, to strengthen our economy and create new opportunities,” Mr Macfarlane said.

The Minister outlined a vision for an Australia where the next generation of researchers is created by nurturing talent and scientific interest and where industry and science work together to identify and respond to challenges, create and capitalise on new ideas, new products and new ways of doing things.

“We want to encourage a scientific community that is internationally regarded as first class, which contributes to the Australian economy and produces tangible outcomes for Australians,” Mr Macfarlane said.

The national science policy will build on the Government’s Industry innovation and Competitiveness Agenda and work to boost the commercial returns from research, including to:

  • create stronger incentives for research-industry collaboration
  • support research infrastructure
  • provide better access to research
  • increase industry relevant research training
  • improve measurement of research outcomes and knowledge transfer with industry.

The government will address the challenge that Australian school students’ performance is average in science and mathematics literacy compared with 11 European countries, the United States and Canada by responding to recommendations made by Australia’s Chief Scientist in his paper Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s future.

The Government’s response will address the need to improve the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills pipeline through the education and training sector, improve industry competitiveness, strengthen our international engagement and improve our research.

The Minister outlined the Government’s $9.2 billion annual investment in science, research and innovation and a range of achievements to date but stressed that simply maintaining the status quo was not good enough.

“Over the last 18 months we’ve accomplished a lot: the RV Investigator has been launched, the National Sea Simulator has become operational and we’re playing a leading role in the global SKA project.

“At the same time we continue to support and value the expertise of our publicly funded research agencies like the CSIRO, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and Geoscience Australia.

“To get the best possible results for Australia, we need governments, industry, academia and the education sectors working together,” Mr Macfarlane said.

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