Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

What Would Pockers Think?

By Simon Grose

Abolishing the Science portfolio would not have pleased Dr Peter Pockley, but all is not lost.

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If Tony Abbott had a nightmare after he announced his Ministry, it may have featured a lanky stooping ghost keening and wailing in a deep sonorous voice about the new PM’s failure to appoint a Science Minister.

Dr Peter Pockley, the pioneer of Australian science journalism who passed away in August, would have defied the non-existence of the afterworld to clamber back and vent horror and dismay at the PM’s appalling mistake.

For Pockers, recognition of “science” by governments was a prime measure of their chronically dubious credibility. He was the first to start counting the use of “science” and “research” in Budget speeches – or lamenting their absence. Much to his regret and disgust, the latter was more common.

He would have been even more incensed and appalled if he had lived to hear that a dedicated Science Ministry had been abolished. Hell, its existence should not have been questioned. The obvious reform was to make it a stand-alone portfolio and install it in Cabinet with status equal to Treasury. If he had also heard that Small Business had gained a Cabinet slot in the new outfit, he would have gone “apockerplectic”.

Some changes he might have welcomed. Like the return to the Education portfolio of responsibility for university research policy and funding, international education and research engagement, and the Australian Research...

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