Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Bushfire Research Burnt

By Ian Lowe

The discontinuance of funding for the Bushfire CRC is a prime example of bureaucratic myopia.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The early announcement of a date for the Australian election should allow time for reasoned debate of important policy issues. In the normal 6 weeks of frenetic campaigning, politicians might be forgiven for concentrating on economic trivia and personalities.

With more than 6 months until voters go into the polling booths, there is no such excuse. We are entitled to expect those competing for our vote to be spelling out their vision for the future – including the crucial role of science and innovation.

In most recent elections there has effectively been bi­partisan agreement to ignore long-term issues. As a result, funding of science and innovation has stagnated. Public funds are used to try to buy votes through blatant pork-barrelling of marginal electorates and desperate attempts to prop up faltering economic activities. Government continues to provide huge subsidies for the supply and use of fossil fuels when the urgency of climate change demands a different approach.

Even if climate change were not an issue, new economic analyses show there is little future in fossil fuels. A recent study by respected financial analysts Bloomberg concluded that wind power is already cheaper than coal or gas in Australia, with solar PV also likely to be cheaper by 2020 even at the expected low levels of charging for carbon dioxide released.

The continuing...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.