After more than two years lobbying for the introduction of chief scientific advisors in all Australian Public Service agencies, APESMA has welcomed Bill Shorten’s introduction of a chief scientist in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).
Minister Shorten announced the new position at a presentation by the UK’s chief scientific advisor to government, Sir John Beddington in Canberra recently.
The new chief scientist in DEEWR will work to integrate and strengthen the use of scientific research and evidence in all areas of policy development.
The position will work closely across government departments, the CSIRO and other stakeholders to foster holistic policy responses to emerging scientific insights and to tackle current and emerging policy challenges.
APESMA sees chief scientific advisors as vital in ensuring science is used to lead policy direction, to inform agencies of scientific advances and facilliate appropriate planning to meet these challenges.
APESMA CEO Chris Walton commended the announcement and said that he hoped to see other agencies adopt similar roles soon.
“Chief scientific advisors will give science a much-needed voice in policy development and draw on scientific innovation to meet new needs and directions,” Mr Walton said.
In making the announcement Shorten cited the benefits he had witnessed in Israel where there was a chief scientist in every government department.
“Despite its relatively small economy, and small population, Israel produces more start-up companies than Japan. What struck me in particular was Israel’s commitment to innovation and that innovation is hard-wired to key institutions,” said Shorten.
APESMA members present at the announcement expressed their strong support for the integration of scientific advice at senior levels in the APS.