Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Driving with Clive

By Simon Grose

Science could be promoted to the front row of the political agenda by advising the under-resourced Senators who hold the balance of power.

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

In this column last November I lamented the lack of a science runner in the microparty preference-swapping stakes at the last election. Instead of the Motoring Enthusiasts Party, the Australians for Intelligent Government (I give AFIG) Party could have won a pivotal share of the balance of power in the Senate.

After seeing the results of that race, the stewards moved to ensure it was a one-off event. In a rare outburst of agreement, Coalition, Labor and Greens members of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters unanimously recommended measures to “provide a disincentive to the proliferation of minor ‘front’ parties… and remove the incentive to ‘game’ the system via preference deals”.

Bummer. But hey, this is a living, evolving democracy. You have to deal with what’s in front of you. And when it comes to science in federal politics, there are vacuums to fill.

The Minister with official responsibility for Science, Ian Macfarlane, hasn’t impressed with his perfunctory efforts to claim the space. His Parliamentary Secretary, Bob Baldwin, is big enough to fill a lot of volume but is more dead weight than bustling bull. And in its first 9 months the government hasn’t even managed to organise a meeting of the PM’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, which has previously met at least twice per year.

Labor is trying to colonise the...

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