House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID 19: Economy

2:48 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Will the minister please advise the House how the Morrison government continues to show strong leadership in the development of science and research to help drive our economic recovery out of the COVID-19 recession?

2:49 pm

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question. We have both visited the CSIRO's Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies in Pullenvale in his electorate. They do world-leading work there, particularly with their specialist Data61 unit.

As I said earlier this week, the challenges we have faced this year have made Australians aware of the critical role of science, research and technology and the roles they play in our everyday lives. Of course, this is more important than ever before, because we know that the solutions that can be found through science are going to lead us out of this COVID recession.

Central to that effort will be the role of the Chief Scientist, and earlier this week the Prime Minister announced that the new Chief Scientist will be Dr Cathy Foley. She will commence her work next year, but she has been employed by the CSIRO for some 36 years in a wide range of roles. Prior to being the chief scientist at CSIRO, she worked in their manufacturing sector. Of course, under our manufacturing strategy, we're creating an even bigger role for CSIRO so that we can make sure that CSIRO is playing an integral part in developing manufacturing strategies, supporting our businesses, making sure that we are harnessing science and technology to support our industries, and particularly making sure that our manufacturing businesses can develop the scale, the resilience and the competitiveness that they need. Last month in the budget, we provided an extra $460 million to CSIRO to address the impacts of COVID-19 and the effect that that had on the great work that they do. That injection of funding is going to take our investment in CSIRO to $3.8 billion over the next four years, which is a significant investment.

CSIRO does amazing work across a large range of areas, but I want to mention specifically the work that is being done by their data scientists and engineers in Data61. They have done an amazing amount of work to support the work that's needed as part of COVID-19 to make sure that we have a good understanding of how viruses behave and how we can put in place COVID-safe workplaces. This is exactly how we're going to harness technology for the future to help us come through the recession that has been happening as a result of COVID and to prepare ourselves for the future. Science and technology will be the key enablers for industry.