Science policy update—March 2020

April 03, 2020
Professor Veena Sahajwalla explores the benefits of a circular economy in the Academy’s first Science for Australians feature. Image adapted from: Anna Kucera / UNSW (used with permission)

Science for Australians launch

The Academy’s ‘Science for Australians’ initiative was launched on 1 March. Science for Australians will illustrate the benefits of science to the public and discuss issues of importance to the Australian STEM sector through a series of peer reviewed feature articles, that cover a range of relevant issues and disciplines.

The first feature, When going around in circles is the way forward, is by Academy Fellow Professor Veena Sahajwalla and addresses the opportunity to reuse waste in Australia and develop a ‘circular economy’. The publication of the feature coincided with the first National Plastic Summit, held at Parliament House, where government, industry, and academia came together to discuss and create solutions to the growing pile of recyclable materials.

More articles coming soon; you will find them listed under latest features.

Submissions and inquires

In February, the Academy provided the Senate Select Committee on the Multi-Jurisdictional Management and Execution of the Murray Darling Basin Plan with its 2019 report Investigation of the causes of mass fish kills in the Menindee Region NSW over the summer of 2018–2019. The report is a detailed, multi-disciplinary analysis of factors leading to the massive mortality events in fish near the township of Menindee. The report discusses in detail many issues of consequence to the inquiry relating to the management of a river system with insufficient water, lowered ecological resilience and inadequate policy structures.

The Academy also recently made a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission's (HRC) consultation on the Human Rights and Technology Discussion Paper. The submission supports the direction and sentiments expressed in the HRC’s discussion paper, but also highlights the need for clearer definitions and further consideration to be given to the indirect consequences some of their proposals may have on, for example, scientific research. The submission was prepared with advice from the Academy’s Fellowship, its National Committees for Data in Science and Information and Communication Sciences, and the Australian National University’s Humanising Machine Intelligence research project.

See all the Academy’s submissions

Engaging with members of parliament

During February and March, the Academy’s Chief Executive and the Director Science Policy met with members of parliament to introduce the Academy and its priorities for 2020, including the Minister for Education and Training the Hon Dan Tehan, the Minister for the Environment the Hon Sussan Ley, the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, the Hon David Littleproud, the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party the Hon Richard Marles, the Shadow Minister for Climate Change the Hon Mark Butler, the Shadow Minister for the Environment Ms Terri Butler, the leader of the Australian Greens Mr Adam Bandt, Senator Rex Patrick, Senator Hanson-Young, Senator Griff Stirling, Senator Janet Rice and Senator Gerard Rennick.

Representatives from the Australian Brain Alliance also met with advisers for the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology the Hon Karen Andrews, and Minister for Education and Training the Hon Dan Tehan.

Regular updates

If you’d like to receive an update every four months from the Academy that specifically focuses on science policy and diplomacy, subscribe to our Science Policy and Diplomacy Newlsetter.

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