Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Science Council’s Renovation Rescue

By Simon Grose

Remodelling the edifice that delivers science advice to the highest level of government seems to be an interactive work in progress.

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Last month this column deprecated the advent of the Commonwealth Science Council as a poor replacement for the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. That opinion was written after Minister Ian Macfarlane, in response to our question at the National Press Club, said that the new council would have a “second tier” that would have “direct access to the Science Council and also to the Prime Minister”.

Macfarlane couldn’t recall the title of this body on that occasion, so we sought more detail. Five working days later we received information from his office, quoted in full:

“The Government is establishing the Commonwealth Science Council (CSC) as the pre-eminent body for advice on science and technology in Australia.

“In addition, a National Science, Technology and Research Council will be established. The membership and terms of reference of this group will be discussed by the Commonwealth Science Council.

“The role of the National Science, Technology and Research Council will be to support the strategic focus of the Commonwealth Science Council, with a focus on implementation of the priorities that are outlined by the CSC.”

The detail supplied is notable for its rawness – there are no members and no terms of reference for an entity that “will be established”. They didn’t even put NSTRC in brackets! Duh?

Why...

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