Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Clever Country Confusion

By Simon Grose

Julia Gillard’s new ministry is not a coherent platform for science-based policy.

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

Responsibility for policy and funding across the science and technology sector has always been a tug-of-war, mainly between industry ministers and education ministers. Julia Gillard could have handled this tension creatively or constructively with her ministerial arrangements, but instead she has created a schemozzle.

It was simple for science policy wonks in earlier times, like when you had Brendan Nelson running DEST or John Button running DITAC. They ran “super ministries” with pronounceable acronyms that covered coherent groups of policy areas. Responsibilities were delegated through “junior ministers”, one of whom had responsibility for “science”, notably Barry Jones for Labor and Peter McGauran for the Coalition.

Now we’ve got Kim Carr running DIISR, Chris Evans running TESJWR, and Peter Garrett running SECY.

After losing a Parliamentary Secretary support position, Carr now shares his department with the Minister for Small Business, Senator Nick Sherry, who is not in Cabinet and is also Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson.

Gillard could have made Sherry a functional link between two Cabinet members whose portfolios cover a lot of science and technology, an opportunity wasted because his responsibilities have little to do with science. As a former Assistant Treasurer under Kevin Rudd, Sherry is now picking up the...

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