Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

What We Learned in the Election Campaign

By Ian Lowe

The election revealed a bipartisan lack of understanding of the role of science in innovation and of the coal industry in the fate of the Great Barrier Reef.

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

It’s relatively unusual for scientists to be keenly interested in election results, but CSIRO scientists will have been watching closely on 2 July as Australians’ votes are counted. Earlier in the year, hundreds of jobs were lost in CSIRO as the CEO demonstrated his hostility to public good science.

In the election campaign, Opposition leader Bill Shorten promised to reverse the cuts in CSIRO funding and provide extra money for research related to climate change, a particular target of the recent sackings. “A Shorten Labor government will invest $250 million in CSIRO to reverse the Liberals’ cuts and ensure the future of key national science infrastructure,” he said. Shorten emphasised that this funding would be additional to the $50 million promised earlier in the campaign to CSIRO, money earmarked for research on climate change and its impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

His statement recognised that 20% of CSIRO jobs had been lost after the 2014–15 Budget cuts. Shorten said that the 2016 round of redundancies have undermined our national research capacity “in critical areas like climate science, manufacturing and food security,” and argued that a well-resourced CSIRO is critical for Australian innovation. That should have persuaded scientists to take off their white coats and start handing out ALP election material.

Apart from that specific...

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