Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Is Nuclear Waste More Valuable than Scientific Research?

By Ian Lowe

The federal Budget treated science as an expense while the Royal Commission identified nuclear waste as a potential money-spinner.

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

It’s a telling comment on the recent political climate that a Budget that does virtually nothing for science and technology is welcomed. As Dr Alan Duffy of Swinburne University of Technology wrote: “Scientists around Australia breathed a sigh of relief” that there was “at least funding for the coming year”. Senior science journalist Leigh Dayton noted in Science that there is “little to suggest any recovery from the $2.2 billion decline in support for science, innovation and research since 2014”.

There was some good news in a small number of specific areas that probably indicate overall government priorities.

Geoscience Australia got about $100 million to fund exploration for minerals as part of the “Exploring for the Future” scheme. Given the declining importance of mining, that looks more like exploring for the past.

The $83 million “to support Australia’s presence in Antarctica” is driven by geopolitical considerations rather than the importance of polar science.

The next biggest new allocation of $37 million went to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation to “ensure nuclear waste is disposed of more efficiently”. The whole area of nuclear waste management remains a serious political embarrassment, which this funding will do relatively little to defuse.

The $15 million for the National Carp Control Plan and the...

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