Science advice: it’s good for democracy

A Senate committee calls for a parliamentary science office to advise MPS – it would get very different questions

The Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs has delivered its report on “nationhood, national identity and democracy” born of a “bipartisan recognition that governments in strong liberal democracies such as Australia must not take that strength for granted.”

One of the report’s recommendations is for a Parliamentary Office of Science, modelled on that in the UK, “to provide independent, impartial scientific advice, evidence and data to the parliament, and all members and senators.”

It is born out of submissions warning undermining science is damaging to democracy.

There is another call for government-funded science advice which makes a similar point, although it’s advocates would likely differ on where the undermining is occurring.

Three Queensland National Party senators propose the Commonwealth and Queensland governments fund, “office of scientific review to evaluate the existing science of the Great Barrier Reef and how it informs policymaking,” (CMM October 13 2020). And their Reps colleague George Christensen wants “an independent science quality assurance agency, to check scientific papers underpinning public policy and affecting peoples’ lives and livelihoods,” (CMM September 16 2019).