Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Of Science and Snake Oil

By Simon Grose

Marking this year’s Budget speech and the responses it provoked for their “science” content turns up a rare spread of results.

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Greens MP Adam Bandt had a simple Pockleyesque barb to lead his response to the Budget speech by Treasurer Joe Hockey: “It continues the anti-science bias of the Abbott government. The word ‘science’ was not mentioned once in the Treasurer’s speech.”

On that metric, Bill Shorten’s Budget-in-Reply speech set a new record with no less than a dozen mentions of “science”. As a bonus, even “technology”, “mathematics” and “engineering” scored mentions, plus “IT coding” no less.

Mr Bandt’s new leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, just got over the line with one mention of “science” in his go at the Budget.

Back at zero with Mr Hockey was Clive Palmer MP, although he did mention “university” a couple of times.

Despite its “science”deficit, Palmer’s speech was the most interesting of the lot. It was not delivered in Parliament but in the ballroom of the Hyatt Canberra. For the second year in a row he hired the big room to throw a free lunch for invited guests and give himself a pulpit.

The guest list was of interest in itself, particularly a brace of trade union heavies including Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney and Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national assistant secretary Dave Noonan. Also there was Ben Oquist, the Australia Institute’s director of strategy and former senior adviser to Greens leaders...

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