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Chubb releases national science strategy

Chief Scientist’s Office     |   2 September 2014

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Chief Scientist Ian Chubb has released his recommendations for a strategic approach to science and its related fields.

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Ian ChubbSpeaking at its release at Parliament House, Chubb said that his strategy report Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future outlines what needs to be done  to build a stronger, more competitive Australia.

Science is infrastructure and it is critical to our future. We must align our scientific effort to the national interest; focus on areas of particular importance or need; and do it on a scale that will make a difference to Australia and a changing world.

I have outlined how to develop better capacity and capability through strategic investment, good planning and long-term commitment.

The report observes that 65% of Australia’s economic growth in recent decades can be ascribed to technological innovations and better use of capital and labour, most of which were made possible by investing in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

We can continue to say it used to be good in 1970 so it probably will be again. (But) incrementalist, self-protective denialism and self-delusion are not the way for Australia to build a sensible future.

Chubb reiterated that Australia is the only OECD country without a science or technology strategy.

Other countries have realised that such an approach is essential to remaining competitive in a world reliant on science and science-trained people.

The 37-page final report offers 24 recommendations around four “principle fields”

  • Building competitiveness
  • Supporting high quality education and training
  • Maximising research potential
  • Strengthening international engagement

Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, welcomed the report, stating that science and research are the pillars upon which Australia’s productivity, living standards and community well-being are built.

Improving our economic and productive performance requires strategic, long-term and stable investment, even in difficult economic times. It aims to embed STEM learning at all levels of the education system and workforce. This investment will deliver maximum returns only if there is a long-term plan for science and research that identifies strategic priorities, acknowledges the need for research career programs and encourages the study and teaching of STEM courses that align skills with workforce needs.

ATN Executive Director, Vicki Thomson described the report as “more than timely”:

This work of the Chief Scientist’s office should be a critical input to Government thinking as it completes the National Industry Investment and Competitiveness Agenda, brings the Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Program fully online and works through reforms to Higher Education and Government funded research.

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