Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Chief Scientist’s Bid to Fill the Void

By Simon Grose

The Chief Scientist could take on greater responsibilities if the government accepts his plan.

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It took a while for Australia’s Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, to get to meet Prime Minister Tony Abbott. After being elected in early September and upsetting scientific circles by not appointing a stand-alone Science Minister, the new PM might have brought forward a meeting with the Chief Scientist and made sure that pictures of them smiling together were flicked out and about.

Maybe this would have happened under the hyper-responsive previous Labor regime, but things have changed.

That they sat down together in December only came to light when Chubb answered a question after addressing Science Meets Parliament delegates at the National Press Club in March.

They had “an hour or so, 45 minutes,” and no, he hadn’t given the PM any advice on climate science because he didn’t ask.

Chubb would later tell Australasian Science that the PM was “up to speed” on his plans to reorganise scientific advisory structures that support policy-makers.

The absence of a Science Minister creates a space that the Office of the Chief Scientist can fill, and Chubb just happens to have a process underway to do the job. As mentioned here in December, he has convened an Australian Research Committee drawn from senior levels of all departments, research agencies and peak bodies. “We have been turning what we believe to be a strategy into what we will call an action...

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