Australia to update science frameworks in renewed commitment to evidence-based policymaking

By on 09/11/2022 | Updated on 09/11/2022
Australia's science and industry minister Ed Husic, said the Labor Party had “put the science back into government” since winning the federal election in May. Photo by Polina Tankilevitch via Pexels

The Australian federal government is to refresh documents that guide its science and technology priorities in a move to bolster evidence-based policymaking.

Ed Husic, the minister for science and industry – who claimed that the Labor Party had “put the science back into government” since winning the federal election in May – said the government would introduce new national science and research priorities and a new science statement.

He said updating these documents and the scientific policy frameworks that underpin them would provide the science and research communities with a “unified purpose” and clearer, more coherent priorities, and was part of the government’s focus on evidence-based policy.

“Now is the time to revitalise [the documents], ensuring they reflect our modern society and provide vision for the Australian science system,” Husic said.

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A new taskforce within the Department of Industry, Science and Resources has been established to consult with the science and research communities and to support Australia’s chief scientist Dr Cathy Foley in her work on updating the documents. She is expected to release the new national science priorities in September next year.

A ‘vital conversation’

Australia’s national science statement was refreshed in 2015 and again in 2017. Husic said that bringing it up to date would require government to strengthen emphasis on areas such as critical technologies, First Nations knowledge and climate change.

“The government wants Australians from all walks of life to have an opportunity to contribute to this vital conversation,” he said.

Dr Foley recently gave a speech at the IPAA national conference in Canberra in which she said advances in biotech, machine learning and quantum technology, were emerging areas that could be developed in the national interest.

“Wearable biosensors will change disease detection. Bioengineering will lead to biology-based materials stronger than Kevlar,” she tweeted.

The government’s ongoing work in the science arena includes a federally-funded initiative that aims to encourage women into STEM programmes, developing support for the quantum and robotics sectors, reviewing the Australian Research Council, and exploring the possibility of forming a Universities Accord.

Part of renewing the government’s science priorities would involve looking at how Australia’s strategic interests could inform guidance going forward, Husic said.

The government said terms of reference for the consultation and further information on refreshing the national science documents would be published soon.

Read more: Diverse government workforce ‘better positioned’ to adapt to future challenges, says Australian Public Service Commission

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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