Labor's Plan For Science at the Centre of Government

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Labor's Plan For Science at the Centre of Government

A Shorten Labor Government will end the war on science and research by resetting the relationship between the Australian Government and Australia’s science and research community

Scientific research and development is fundamental to a nation’s capacity for innovation and underpins the creation of new jobs, economic growth and productivity.

This is why Labor is committed to working with business, industry, universities and research institutes to boost Australia’s investment in research and development to 3 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per annum by 2030.

Part of mobilising this effort must be to enter a compact with the Australian science and research community to establish a basis for working together to improve Australia’s performance.

Under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government, Australia’s research and development performance has declined, with research and development as a percentage of GDP falling from 2.12 per cent in 2011 to 1.88 per cent in 2015. The latest figures on Commonwealth investment in science, research and innovation show that spending will be $358 million lower this financial year (in real terms), compared with Labor’s last year in government.

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has broken the relationship between the Commonwealth and the Australian science and research community. They have constantly interfered in and manipulated the allocation of science and research funding on political and ideological grounds.

Time and time again they have demonstrated their contempt for science and research.

Under Labor this will change.

LABOR’S PLAN:

Labor will end the war on science and research by resetting the relationship between the Australian Government and Australia’s science and research community.

A Shorten Labor Government will:

• Develop a charter with the Australian science and research community to establish the reciprocal roles and responsibilities of government and researchers.

• Establish a Prime Minister’s Science and Innovation Council, supported by a National Scientific Expert Panel.

• Review and strengthen the National Science and Research priorities, giving the priorities a central role in guiding government investments in innovation, science and research

The Charter with the Australian Science and Research Community will be a compact between the government and the research community, in which the expectations of scientists and their obligations to the Australian people are clearly established, and the commitment and reciprocal responsibilities of scientists and government will be established.

Labor will establish a top level Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Innovation. The current Commonwealth Science Council has met infrequently, has been ineffective and ignored by the Liberal Government.

Under Labor, the Prime Minister’s Council will be responsible for providing advice to the Prime Minister and other ministers on the implications of science, research, engineering and technology issues in the Australian context. It will advise a Shorten Labor Government on a strategic, whole-of-government approach to all aspects of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation.

Membership of the Council will be the Prime Minister (Chair), a Cabinet-level Minister with responsibility for Science (deputy Chair), the Minister for Education and Training, the Minister for Health, Australia's Chief Scientist (Executive Officer), five eminent and practicing scientists, social scientists or science educators (including at least one with a humanities or social sciences background), and four eminent business representatives.

The Prime Minister’s Council will be supported by a National Scientific Expert Panel that will provide policy advice on topics affecting the lives of Australians in the present and in the decade ahead. Labor will work with the learned academies, led by the Australian Academy of Science, to shape the form and function of this council.

Labor will review, refresh and properly monitor the National Science and Research Priorities.

The priorities have an important role in guiding Australia’s investment in our future. Under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government, they have been largely ignored and have become a meaningless tick and flick exercise. Labor will ensure they are reviewed every two years.