Call For Long-Term Innovation Commitment

Wednesday, 31 January, 2001

Scientists at UNSW greeted the Prime Minister's Innovation Statement with approval, but said a firm, long-term, bipartisan commitment to innovation through science was necessary to avoid Australia becoming increasingly dependent on more technologically advanced nations.

Professor Colin Sutherland, Dean of UNSW's Faculty of Science and Technology noted that the Prime Minister appears to have recognised and responded to several of the key issues. However, other countries are also boosting investments in science, technology and education. Australia, therefore, needs to not only maintain these initiatives, but build on them well into the future. Until salaries and working conditions for scientists in industry, and especially in universities, are internationally competitive, Australia will remain in danger of falling behind.

Science and technology have combined to produce the greatest engine for growth and opportunity the world has ever seen and it's not going to stop. While working scientists are needed, society is also going to need more non-scientists who are informed in scientific matters, especially to provide guidance on how scientific innovation will impact other aspects of society.

To be sure that Australia benefits from the investment the Government has made, it is necessary to enthuse young people and let them see what science can offers. For this, a commitment to primary and secondary school education is needed.

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