Tag Archives: Parliament

evidence-based policy

Evidence-based policy in action

Science has evolved over many centuries to become an integral part of modern society, underpinning our health, wealth generation and cultural fabric. This process has been distinguished by an implicit collaboration between science and business, government, and the wider community.

However, the integration of science with evidence-based policy has – in this century – often been wilfully disregarded by politicians in many countries, who either cherry-pick or completely ignore the science when it does not accord with their political agenda. Most recently in the United States, we have seen “alternative facts” supplant scientific and other evidence bases in the “post-fact” era.

While surveys continue to show that the vast majority of people still support and believe in the benefits of science, the politicisation of science has inevitably raised seeds of doubt, or polarised many people’s world view.

So it is important now, more than ever, to reinforce with politicians the value and respect for science in the creation of evidence-based policy.

In Australia, a key connection between science and politics is the annual “Science meets Parliament” (SmP) event, which began in 1999, and which today is organised by Science and Technology Australia.  This unique event, that each year brings together hundreds of scientists and the Australian Parliament, owes its success to the way in which it saturates Parliament with science for two days; the great majority of parliamentarians are engaged in the all-pervasive nature of this important scientific exchange.

There are three key outcomes of SmP that distinguish it from a lobbying event:

1. Scientists both young and old – through their enthusiasm for their research – convey the excitement and the benefits of science to parliamentarians, thereby helping to close the “virtuous cycle” that supports science in society;

2. Scientists, at the same time, develop an appreciation for the process of government, contributing significantly to their professional development;

3. Finally, lasting networks are created between parliamentarians and scientists. They go beyond the meetings at SmP, and enable scientific engagement with Parliament to extend more broadly, both geographically and throughout scientific and parliamentary careers.

These networks, and the collaborations that they engender, are key to ensuring the ongoing contribution of science to government decision-making and evidence-based policy, and thereby to enhancing the role of science in our society.

As is the case with science and industry, it is important to continuously innovate in our governance processes; without this, the political system cannot respond to the changing needs of the community.

Science, through events like Science meets Parliament, is a key part of that evolution. We must work tirelessly to reinvigorate this engagement, and to counter those who might seek to cherry-pick and subvert the science that underpins our evidence-based society.

Professor Kenneth Baldwin

Director, Energy Change Institute, Australian National University

Founder, Science Meets Parliament

Read next: Kylie Walker, CEO of Science & Technology Australia, sheds light on the platforms that allow researchers to forge relationships with Australia’s decision-makers.

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university research

$1.5 billion in funding for university research

More than $1.5 billion will be available over four years to support Australia’s world-class university research following the introduction of new laws into Parliament today.

Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham said the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2015 would guarantee $1.538.9 million for university research programmes funded through the Australian Research Council (ARC) from 2015 through to 2019.

“Up to $748.3 million in ARC grants will be available in the 2017–18 financial year, while up to $739.6 million will be available in 2018–19,”says Birmingham.

“This legislation secures funding for the Future Fellowships programme after the previous Labor Government left a funding cliff that provided zero dollars for a Future Fellows Scheme from 2015 onwards.”

“High quality research can help save lives, protect the environment, raise living standards for people around the world, create business opportunities and efficiencies, and drive the innovation and creativity needed for the jobs of the future.”

Birmingham says the new legislation also honoured Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s commitment to NZ Prime Minister John Key in Auckland last week to extend Australia’s student loans scheme to New Zealand citizens who have been long-term residents of this country since childhood.

“If the Bill is passed this year, an estimated 2600 New Zealanders will be eligible for loans to help them study at university, or for higher level vocational education and training qualifications, in 2016,” Birmingham says.

The Bill follows legislation currently before the Parliament which allows data sharing between Australia and New Zealand to support the Australian Government’s requirement for anyone who moves overseas to continue to pay back their Australian student loan just as they would if they lived in Australia.

The Bill will also make Torrens University Australia eligible for research block grant funding, placing it on an equal footing for university research funding as other Australian private universities, and recognise Ballarat University’s name change to Federation University.

– Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training

This article was originally published on 22 October in a media release by the Department of Education and Training Media Centre. Read the original article here.