Cabinet reshuffle disappoints peak body

December 20, 2017

Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle demotes science to assistant ministry and disappoints peak body, Science & Technology Australia.

Science & Technology Australia (STA) is disappointed and concerned that science has been demoted to the assistant ministry following today’s federal cabinet reshuffle.

President of STA, Professor Emma Johnston, said the new Jobs and Innovation portfolio created in the cabinet reshuffle today failed to acknowledge and value the fundamental science that is vital for its existence.

“We are concerned that without a Department specifically responsible for science, Australian science and technology research will not have the focus that it needs and deserves,” Professor Johnston said.

“This is the fourth Minister we’ve had in three years, and the second time that we have not had a Federal Minister for Science – if science is not a priority, we risk damaging the sector and Australia’s future health, wealth and wellbeing.”

Following the cabinet reshuffle, Science & Technology Australia has welcomed the newly appointed Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Senator the Hon Michaela Cash; and the Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation, Senator the Hon Zed Seselja to their new portfolios.

“Senator Cash has already expressed an interest in Australian innovation while acting in the role, and we will work hard with her to continue to support Australian science to be world-leading.”

“As the Australian economy grows and the global appetite for innovation and research expands, it is vital that we have strong leadership for the science and technology sectors,” said Professor Johnston.

Professor Johnston extended her sincere gratitude to outgoing Minister, Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos, for his energetic and passionate leadership in the role.

“Under Senator Sinodinos we have enjoyed a collaborative and energetic approach to science and technology policy.”

Professor Johnston urged the Government to prioritise investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics given they are critical to solving Australian and global challenges and they provide strong returns on investment.

“The numbers are in; across the world we see that investment in science and technology pays economic, social and environmental dividends.

“In Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council returns $3.20 for every $1 it invests in its work,” she said.

“In Europe science provides a 250% return on investment, and in the USA every dollar spent on science and technology returns $2.21 on average.”

“Remarkably in the UK, for every pound government spends on science and innovation, they receive 20-60 pence in return every year, in perpetuity.

“With the right strategy, there’s no reason why Australia can’t take full advantage of these returns. When you look at the figures, it just makes sense to invest in science.”

First published by STA

Read more: Australia’s economy is a House of Cards

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