Cribb in the Canberra Times today

A terrific op-ed from Julian Cribb in the Canberra Times today which made me think about the IA conference last week. The impact of science on policy is perhaps the biggest issue in science communication in Australia and globally right now. Yet it’s one that is probably hard for IA to catalyse given it’s a government program.

Science has been marginalised by governments for too long and needs a strong national voice.
The evidence is mounting that Australian science is once more lost in the dark ages of political neglect and disfavour.
To the average Australian that might not seem to matter very much, but the more thoughtful may no doubt reflect on the likely cost to the nation of not understanding our own environment, falling behind other advanced countries and not making national decisions on a sound evidential base…
One of the contributing reasons to the long, slow slide into marginality of Australian science is its perpetual inability to speak out clearly, frankly, forcefully and often about the importance of science to the future of Australia and the dangers of ignoring it…
…But when you look at who speaks for Australian science, you find, almost always, they are on the government payroll in one way or another. The academies, the universities, the funding bodies, the science agencies, the Cooperative Research Centres are all beholden to government funding and fearful of its loss should they earn political displeasure by saying the things science often has to say, which are not always pleasing to the political ear. Only the Federation of Scientific and Technological Societies has a relatively independent voice, and it is neither very loud nor forceful…
Julian then talks about a potential solution.

Niall Byrne

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