Chief Scientist Ian Chubb bids farewell

By Lauren Davis
Friday, 22 January, 2016

Professor Ian Chubb today completed his appointment as Australia’s seventh Chief Scientist after almost five years in the role.

Since commencing as Chief Scientist on 23 May 2011, Professor Chubb has been a key adviser to the government on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as an advocate for Australian science internationally. He was, in particular, a passionate supporter of a national science strategy.

In a farewell statement released this week, Professor Chubb issued his best wishes to his successor, Dr Alan Finkel, as well as to the scientists of Australia and the world. In particular, he encouraged them to remain strong in the face of those who “only want to be told what they want to hear”.

“I can only say to scientists: don’t flinch,” he said. “Do your work; do it according to the trusted methods of ethical science; and talk regularly to the public. Encourage the public to walk with you and learn with you. Their support, and the weight and quality of evidence, must always trump make-believe.”

Professor Chubb said science must be put at the core of everything we do if we are to enjoy “a future of rising living standards, good jobs for those who seek them, healthy communities to enjoy and wondrous places to explore”. He also called for an education system that prepares children to be part of such a world — one which relies substantially on STEM.

“The future demands more of us than fiddling at the edges with the policy prescriptions we’ve tried before,” Professor Chubb said.

“It means seeking national solutions, implemented across government, reaching across industries, all pursued with the understanding and support of all Australians. It means working hard for what we want, rather than presuming that ‘she’ll be right’ because it has been.”

Professor Chubb referred to the National Innovation and Science Agenda as “an important step in the right direction” which could make an important difference, so long as it is viewed as “a living document to be evaluated, adapted and extended”.

“There’s a different and better Australia to make,” Professor Chubb said, “and we can do it if we have the passion, patience and persistence.”

The full statement can be viewed here.

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