Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Defence Act Casts a Long Shadow

By Guy Nolch

The battle now shifts from public good to commercial research, as new Defence powers threaten a broad range of “dual-use” technologies.

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

Last month marked the centenary of the foundation of the Australian Council of Science and Industry, which later evolved into today’s CSIRO. The Prime Minister of the fledgling nation, Billy Hughes, had argued for the establishment of a scientific organisation that would “solve problems that seemed insoluble”, many of which were agricultural for a country that was riding on the sheep’s back.

Much has changed in Australia – and indeed in science – over the past century but land, water and climate science remain central to the public good. However, the freedom for our scientists to pursue public good research has been stymied as successive governments have sought an economic return on their investment.

It was this financial imperative that led CSIRO management to slash and burn its land, water and climate research (, arguing that the climate data had been gathered and now it was time to move onto climate mitigation research. Since then temperatures have soared to new records, the Great Barrier Reef has experienced extensive coral bleaching, and a new study has predicted that the...

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