Government revamps science advice

The federal government has sunk one science council and launched a new one.

The Commonwealth Science Council is no more, replaced yesterday by the National Science and Technology Council, which will, “create jobs and drive economic growth.”

The prime minister will chair the new council, with industry, science and technology minister Karen Andrews deputising. Chief Scientist Alan Finkel rows over from the old vessel of knowledge to continue as executive officer and CSIRO chief Larry Marshall is an ex officio member. Additional members will be “up to six scientific experts.” Word is that they will all be your actual scientists, rather than industry-based experts who the government thinks are better placed on the complementary Innovation Science Australia Board.

Other people who have a big interest in science and were on the old council are missing from the new one – the ministers for education and health, who between them manage a couple of billion in annual outlays.

But not to worry, Chief Scientist Finkel says this is “a strengthened role for science in national decision-making.”  And Group of Eight CEO Vicki Thomson said she “looked forward to the new council providing strong oversight of Australia’s science and research system, including to ensure that investments were coordinated, strategic and carefully balanced to ensure appropriate weight across the spectrum from basic to applied science. “

The new body is expected to have four meetings a year, up from two on the old council.


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