Science policy update—April 2020

April 30, 2020


Crowded beach with families enjoying the water
Longitudinal population data are contributing to our understanding of disease patterns and healthcare. Photo: Bondi Beach by Annie Spratt/Unsplash

In March the Academy made a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics into the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [Provisions].

In April the Academy made a joint submission with the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science (AAHMS) to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's draft National Health Information Strategy Framework. The submission makes the point that Australia has an opportunity to drive genuine improvements in health through the appropriate use of data and gives examples where longitudinal population data are contributing to our understanding of disease patterns and healthcare. The submission was prepared with advice from the Academy’s National Committee for Data in Science and National Committee for Nutrition, and AAHMS Fellows Professor John Carlin, Professor Ken Ho and Professor John Zalcberg.

The Academy also made a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade regarding opportunities for strengthening Australia’s relations with the Republic of France. The submission was prepared by the Academy’s National Committees team and the policy team with input from the Embassy of France in Canberra.

In April the Academy made a submission to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act Review led by independent reviewer Professor Graeme Samuel AC. The Academy offered the review six short papers that address key aspects of the operations of the EPBC Act. The submission was drafted with advice from Academy Fellows Professor Helene Marsh, Professor Craig Moritz, Professor David Lindenmayer and Professor Christopher Dickman, along with Associate Professor Emily Nicholson, Professor Martine Maron, Dr Jessica Walsh, Dr Libby Rumpff, Professor Don Driscoll, Professor John Zichy-Woinarski and Professor Steven Chown, and with input from the National Committee for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation.

Taxonomy Australia meets online for grand science mission

A national meeting to plan for a grand science mission to discover and document all remaining Australian species was scheduled to be held in Adelaide in March, organised by Taxonomy Australia and hosted and supported by the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Adelaide, with further support from the Ian Potter Foundation. Unfortunately, it was necessary to cancel that meeting at the last minute due to the coronavirus situation. The planned three-day face-to-face meeting was replaced by an online meeting comprising a series of YouTube presentations, question-and-answer sessions, Zoom breakouts, panel discussions and webinars, running over three weeks. This was highly successful—a face-to-face meeting of 40 select participants was replaced by an online one that attracted nearly 200 people from throughout Australia and around the world. Participants at the meeting have been very enthusiastic, and the online platform more than met the meeting’s aims. Subscribe to receive updates from Taxonomy Australia or follow on Twitter.

In parallel, Deloitte Access Economics is generously supporting a project to develop a preliminary cost-benefit analysis for the mission, to estimate the benefits to Australia of discovering and documenting all our biodiversity, and the cost of such a grand piece of science infrastructure.

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