Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Science Gets a Voice in Canberra

By Simon Grose

The alternative Prime Minister, Bill Shorten, can use science to win votes by creating a clever and clean energy country.

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

Bill Shorten’s decision to be “the first Labor leader to take science as their special responsibility” is a welcome challenge to the weary political dictum that there ain’t no votes in science.

With an Arts/Law degree from Monash, an MBA from the Melbourne Business School and a career as a Maurice Blackburn lawyer, union heavy and MP, he has no scientific background.

Setting himself as a champion of science is partly a reactive response to the new government’s decision to ditch a designated science portfolio. It also fits his larger political strategy to colonise constituencies that lack political champions, as he did with his advocacy for people with disabilities.

And it’s a fine platform for a new-generation political leader of the alternative Australian government.

Shorten’s job is to refresh Labor’s policies and set the political agenda. There is no better place to start than the focal point where science, politics and economics meet – climate change.

Economists recommend carbon pricing to force carbon emissions down. This pure economic theory has two practical problems:

  • it will only work if the price of carbon is set higher than politicians will ever dare; and
  • existing early-generation carbon-free energy technologies are weak, costly and unreliable compared with fossil fuel sources.

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