Professional Scientists Australia congratulates the Morrison Government on its re-election and looks forward to helping deliver on the Government’s long‑term plan to increase productivity and job creation through Innovation and Science as set out in the 2017 National Science Statement.
When flow on effects are considered, the impact of STEM fields amounts to over 26 per cent of Australian economic activity, or about $330 billion per year. Modelling by PwC finds that shifting just 1 per cent of the workforce into STEM roles would add $57.4 billion to GDP (net present value over 20 years). There’s no doubt science should be front-row-centre in the Morrison Government’s plan for driving economic growth for the next three years and beyond.
As the union for a range of public and private sector scientists, Professional Scientists Australia has worked alongside other unions and science advocacy bodies like Science and Technology Australia and the Research and Innovation Alliance to ensure the critical nation-building role of research, science and technology is recognised by the Government, the community and policy-makers and that the value of scientific and technical expertise is understood to be the productivity and innovation-enabler that it is.
We will continue to ensure that proper recognition and reward and other issues such as guarding against deprofessionalisation and ensuring scientists are engaged in key decision and policy-making roles are part of policy debate. We’ll continue to conduct our annual scientists survey in conjunction with Science & Technology Australia to make sure our advocacy work is informed and evidence-based. We’ll continue to ensure your voice is heard in any future ‘big picture’ planning as we did in our submissions to the Government’s Vision for a Science Nation and the Innovation and Science’s 2030 Strategic Plan.
We will continue to advocate for changes at the workplace level to be part of the plan to increase the participation of women in STEM as part of the Government’s recently released the Advancing Women in STEM strategy. We believe that the changes needed to address the gender pay gap in STEM won’t happen unless the issue is understood as being as much about the attrition of women from the STEM workforce as it is about improving participation rates. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency Gender Equality data shows a gender pay gap of 22.6 per cent in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services industry so there remains a great deal of work to do. We’ll continue to conduct our Women in STEM survey to ensure we can contribute to the national debate in an informed, substantive and credible way.
We’ll continue to advocate for the need for evidence-based policy on critical national and global issues such as climate change and food security and on the need to support funding for basic as well as applied research.
In Australia, every dollar invested into our National Health and Medical Research Council returns $3.20 in health and economic benefits. While the MRFF completed its successful passage through Parliament in 2015 providing a significant boost for Australia’s health and medical research sector, there is a strong consensus that ongoing reform in the health and medical research institute sector is needed in the areas of funding, skills and gender equity. Policy-settings need to be adjusted to incentivise commercialisation, fully fund the costs of research, provide better access to vital research equipment, ensure systemically-entrenched gender disadvantage is addressed, simplify grant application processes and ensure grant terms help attract and retain skilled researchers and ensure workforce sustainability for the sector. We highlighted these issues in our landmark industry survey report, the 2016 consultation and since and will continue our efforts in this important area.
We want to work with the Government to put science, technology and research back at the centre of Government initiatives, and to ensure policy and decision-making are informed by the huge wealth of knowledge of Australia’s globally-recognised scientists. We will make sure your voice is heard in Canberra.
Robyn Porter, President, Professional Scientists Australia
 Australian Academy of Science (2016). The importance of advanced physical, mathematical and biological sciences to the Australian Economy. Canberra.
 Price Waterhouse Coopers (2015). A Smart move: Future-proofing Australia’s workforce by growing skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Downloaded at https://www.pwc.com.au/pdf/a-smart-move-pwc-stem-report-april-2015.pdf 5 February, 2019.
 Workplace Gender Equality Agency (2018).
 Ronai, I. Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Sydney. Available at https://theconversation.com/new-study-confirms-what-scientists-already-know-basic-research-is-under-valued-110778?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20February%205%202019%20-%201227711295&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20February%205%202019%20-%201227711295+CID_12d3733573506c3b58f4936288e33147&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=New%20study%20confirms%20what%20scientists%20already%20know%20basic%20research%20is%20under-valued, February 2019.