Science In Australia

The Cause Of Science

This one came in from Pleiades, and I’d meant to post it up but I’ve been mightily distracted. It’s basically a rebuttal to all the people who run around with economic rationalist notions that science budgets should be cut.

There is a view in this country that too much thinking about the sort of Australia we want gets in the way of the “market signals” – the invisible rays that persuade 15 year olds to study physics, or not, that attract graduates into science teaching, or not; and convince the market to wear the risk of bold new ideas, or not.

It adds up to the message that she’ll be right. And it would be an easy message for a chief scientist to sell – if it wasn’t contradicted by the evidence.

Yes, logic says Australian businesses have an incentive to innovate. Three in five of them still say they don’t, while just one in five say that they have introduced new or significantly improved goods or services. Yes, all the research demonstrates that industry and researchers benefit from working together. Our record on collaboration is now one of the poorest in the OECD.

Yes, it makes sense to study a science at senior levels. Australian schools show a decline in the rates of participation in “science” subjects to close to the lowest level in 20 years.

If you really want an in-depth look, here is the actual recommendation tabled. I’ve spent most of my working career in the arts, and it still incenses me that this government has made very little provision to keep R&D going or for the CSIRO to continue doing the important things it does. I know the government wants to cut everything, but it’s clear they have been much too cavalier about the cuts they’ve made to science and technology. Starting from the disavowal of the NBN down, this government has been a disaster when it comes to developing anything cerebral as a future direction for this country. Instead they’ve fixated upon more roads.  That, and doing he bidding of whoever lobbies with the most dollars.

 

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