House debates

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Statements by Members


1:45 pm

Photo of David SmithDavid Smith (Bean, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I hope members and senators have taken the opportunity today to meet some of the hundreds of scientists who are here as part of the Science meets Parliament program. Australian scientists are the hit machine of scientific invention when governments back them in, from the black-box flight recorder and the bionic ear to wi-fi and the Gardasil cancer vaccine. Science meets Parliament is now in its 20th year. It's a great opportunity to hear about research and applied science that is happening right across the country and to hear from experts in the field on the challenges they are facing.

It's a pity that the Prime Minister isn't meeting any of the scientists, but we shouldn't be surprised. He's keen to avoid it, both here and abroad. Like Stephen Colbert, it's probably because he thinks 'science has a left-wing bias'. He could have used the opportunity to engage with a metadata expert or an expert in native grasses. We have some of the world's best universities, some of the world's best science institutions, like CSIRO and DSTG, and some of the world's best scientists and engineers, but they are being undermined by this government and other conservative governments around the country. We have CSIRO and DSTG being placed under ridiculous staffing caps that are preventing critical work from being done. We are a backmarker in the OECD in terms of the percentage of GDP that goes to R&D, and now we have the politicisation of ARC grants. Our scientists deserve better.