Young gets it done

Returning to research” is a phrase with many meanings. But when Ian “the gent” Young stood down as VC at ANU in 2015 it is exactly what he said he would do and exactly what he has done.  “In particular, I am interested in how ocean winds and waves are changing,” he told ANU Reporter then. And now he has delivered, releasing a global data base of calibrated altimeter wind speed and wave height for the Australian Ocean Data Network.

What to do about regional education

The feds have released a “framing paper” to inform submissions to the expert advisory group on regional, rural and remote education chaired by Denis Napthine (CMM).

Core issues are; expanding post-school education and training opportunities in RRR areas, financial, social and psychological support for RRR students relocating to study, increasing aspiration to tertiary education in RRR communities, support for disadvantaged prospective and Indigenous students, using tertiary education to expand economic opportunity in RRRR areas and the case for and role of a national regional education commissioner.

The paper is part of Education Minister Dan Tehan’s $134m regional education package, which the government obviously assumes interest groups are across – response to the paper are due tomorrow week.

Positive on PIAAC

In November the government decided to withdraw from the OECD survey of adult skills, the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies – which struck the training community as less dumb than dumber. But the feds have changed their minds, with TAFE Directors Craig Robertson being told Australia will participate in the second PIAAC cycle.

Two sets of scientific advice on Murray Darling fish disaster

The government and Opposition will have their own separate sets of expert advice on the Murray-Darling fish kill.

The Australian Academy of Science, “in consultation with the other learned academies,” has “responded to a specific request from the Leader of the Opposition,” and convened an expert group to provide scientific advice on fish-deaths in the Murray-Darling system.

Meanwhile the government is getting its own expert advice, with Agriculture Minister David Littleproud appointing “an independent panel” chaired by the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s independent advisory committee head Rob Vertessy.

The academy report will go to Bill Shorten on February 10 and Professor Vertessy’s preliminary report to the government on February 20.

Yesterday the Academy of Science welcomed the government announcement, although whether Mr Littleproud will welcome the learned academies lining up to advise the Opposition is another question.

The full list of Academy of Science experts is below.

Bright sparks from shipbuilding college

Now hear this. The long-time launching Naval Shipbuilding College is  underway, working with partners to create a training kit for welding in tight spaces, a necessary skill for shipbuilding. Good-o, but how where workers trained on existing programmes, the air warfare destroyers say.

China scholars speak out

Back in March scholars of China split over the level, if any, of the PRC’s interference in Australian politics, with academics presenting opposite groups to a Senate inquiry into foreign interference legislation (CMM March 29).

But the community seems solid in supporting an open letter demanding Beijing release Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.  The two are widely considered to be held as retaliation for Canada’s arrest, at US request, of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Australian and Australian-based academic signatories include, Gareth Evans (as a former foreign minister and previous head of the International Crisis Group, not as ANU chancellor), Geremie Barmé (ANU), Mark Beeson (UWA), Nick Bisley (La Trobe U), Malcolm Cook (Lowy Institute), Gloria Davies (Monash U), Michael Fullilove (Lowy Institute), James Laurenceson (UTS), Richard McGregor (Lowy Institute), Rory Medcalf (ANU), Benjamin Reilly (UWA), Carlyle Thayer (UNSW),  Ashley Townsend (Uni Sydney), Sue Trevaskes (Griffith U), and Michael Wesley (ANU).

Big ideas, small packagers

The annual Clarivate innovation report is out, based on the Derwent patents and innovation indexes. Japan and the US account for 72 per cent the top 100, which might explain why Australian organisations are not there – lacking the scale to compete. It doesn’t, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden and Finland are all represented.


Swinburne to make better blockchains

Last year Swinburne U’s Aleksandar Subic announced a blockchain for the ownership of artworks as part of its applied BC research programme (CMM April 6 2018). Now the university is extending its engagement with a partnership to develop blockchain based solutions for supply chain problems in financial services, creative industries, manufacturing, food, pharmaceutical and health domains. A Swinburne team led by dean of digital research and innovation Xiang Yang will work with French consultancy Capgemini.

It’s another Subic strategy to position Swinburne in the Industry 4.0 space. The university is one of four Australian institutions partnering with Siemens to use its industrial software for teaching and research. Last week  Professor Subic was announced leader of the feds’ Industry 4.0 testlab pilots working on, “transformative technologies to connect the physical world with the digital world.

Opportunity cost

For-profit journal publisher Taylor and Francis is inviting their journal editors and “society partners” to meet in Melbourne next month to discuss, “emerging opportunities in scholarly comms.”  Partners presumably including the University of Sydney editors of Current Issues in Criminal Justice, which signed last month with Taylor and Francis, “as part of the ongoing contribution the journal makes to public advocacy and critical debate on criminal justice issues.” At least contributions to advocacy and debate to be read by people whose institutions subscribe to the journal, or who can pay US$42 for 24-hours access to an article.


The Academy of Science panel to advise Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on fish kill in the Murray Darling basin (above) is, Tim Flannery, Uni Melbourne. Lee Godden, Uni Melbourne. Quentin Grafton, ANU.  Lesley Head, Uni Melbourne. Richard Kingsford, UNSW. John Williams, ANU.  Sue Jackson, Griffith U. Jenny Davis, Charles Darwin U and Linda Blackall, Uni Melbourne.