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Directions

ATSE column

Australia Needs Integrated Growth in Agriculture

By Kate Grenot

Strategic investment in technology, science and engineering innovation is required.

The world faces a confluence of pressures that will threaten global food security and agricultural production for the foreseeable future. These rest on population growth, changing dietary preferences, climate change and natural resource constraints.

We Need to Keep Women in Focus as Change Agents

By Cathy Foley

Not because we should, but because we must – for innovation’s sake.

There is strong evidence that companies operating with a gender balance actually enhance their innovation quotient and gain a competitive advantage.

Reports also suggest that advances in gender equity correlate positively with higher Gross National Product (GNP), and that increasing women’s labour force participation and earnings generates greater economic benefits for a family’s health and education.

Chasing the Low Carbon Energy Solution

By Bruce Godfrey

No single policy will achieve sustainable and affordable energy.

National energy policy cannot be formulated in isolation from the rest of the world or in isolation from other policies. An integrated, whole-of-government approach is essential, for which there are both horizontal and vertical dimensions.

National energy policy should be coordinated to the optimal extent with environmental policy, technological innovation policy and economic policy. This is the horizontal dimension of energy policy integration.

Manufacturing 2.0

By Alan Finkel

The motor industry collapse brings urgency to the manufacturing dilemma.

Traditional manufacturing is declining rapidly in Australia. The recent domino collapse of the automotive manufacturing industry makes it vital that we address the issue now. We have to decide what the manufacturing sector should aspire to – jobs growth or economic growth. Over coming decades, increased revenue from fewer jobs might be the best we can hope for because we are entering an era of extreme automation.

What Is the Future of Shale Gas in Australia?

By Peter Cook

A review by ACOLA has weighed up the risks and rewards of shale gas extraction.

Unconventional gas, such as shale gas, coal seam gas and methane hydrates, has been in the news for many months as argument rages over its benefits and its impacts. The nation has to make a decision on this resource – and quickly.

For some, the potential economic benefits of new and potentially cheaper sources of gas are reason enough to develop shale gas. For others, the potential environmental impacts are reason enough to ban shale gas production.

Editorial Vision Will Prevail

By Alan Finkel

We’re awash with information, but good editorial teams can inform and amuse you better than any automated keyword search.

On the information battlefield, traditional newspapers and magazines are increasingly wounded by declining circulation while new media contestants join the fray at ever-greater rates. Everything is in flux and we don’t know how the action will pan out.

Water Recycling: It’s Time to Go “Direct”

By Jurg Keller

Water supply and wastewater systems are kept separate, but a report into water recycling finds this is no longer the best option.

Water is undoubtedly one of our most important resources, but we take it for granted. We expect it to run, nice and clear, from the tap and then “disappear” again from the sink or shower. But this major achievement of modern life is not without its limitations and challenges.

Through population growth, urbanisation and the growing variability of global climates, we are increasingly recognising that supply will not keep up with demand for much longer – at least not if we only use it once.

No More Studies: It’s Time for STEM Action

By Mike Miller

The STEM situation is desperate and needs to be addressed as a high priority.

Skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas, or the lack of them, have become a key problem preoccupying policy-makers in Australia and many other countries. STEM-based jobs are projected to grow at almost twice the pace of other occupations, and 75% of the fastest-growing occupations require significant STEM skills and knowledge.

Nuclear Energy Has a Future in Australia

By John Söderbaum

Australia has compelling reasons to debate the use of nuclear energy as a power source.

Despite community uncertainty about some aspects of the use of nuclear-generated energy, there are strong environmental reasons to adopt this technology to achieve the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. These are backed by current official modelling that suggests nuclear energy is cost-competitive.

Heal our Commercialisation Gap

By David Brockway & Alan Finkel

Collaboration, industry links, secondments, metrics and tax can all help to take R&D to market.

Australia punches well above it weight in R&D but, with a few notable exceptions, has a lesser record of commercialisation, with many Australian R&D outcomes taken to market overseas.

Australia needs to create new industries focused on high-value products, applying our undoubted excellence in R&D and driving it to market through innovation – the conversion of new ideas into products and services.