Environmental reform, new national science and research priorities and stronger scientific engagement in the Asia-Pacific are among the big-ticket items on the agenda for Australian science in 2023.
Before April: The Australian Research Council’s Review Panel will provide the Minister for Education with a final report. The Academy’s submission to the review of the ARC Act says fundamental research should be the primary focus of the ARC. The submission calls on the Australian Government to commission an independent science and research system review.
Before October: Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic has committed to renewing Australia’s National Science and Research Priorities and to developing a National Science Statement. Academy Fellows will inform this debate on how to build critical Australian science capabilities and play to our research strengths.
First six months: The International Science Council Asia-Pacific Regional Presence, led by the Australian Academy of Science, will begin operation. The Regional Presence will strengthen Australia’s scientific leadership in the region and globally.
Throughout the year: Ukrainian scientists who have fled the war with Russia or who have been unable to work due to the destruction of their workplace will receive a helping hand from Australia. The assistance will be provided thanks to an A$800,000 donation to the Academy from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.
Scientific evidence and the law
This year: A decision will be handed down by Commissioner Tom Bathurst AC KC, who is leading the Second Inquiry into the convictions of Kathleen Folbigg. The second hearing block in the Inquiry is scheduled to commence on 13 February and will address cardiac and genetic evidence as well as psychology, psychiatry, and other evidence relevant to Ms Folbigg's diaries. The Academy is an independent scientific adviser to the Inquiry.
First six months: A new package of national environmental legislation will be prepared to implement reforms outlined in the Australian Government’s response to an independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999), handed down in 2020. The shape of some of the proposed reforms remains unclear. The Academy looks forward to continuing to engage with the Australian Government in refining and implementing these reforms.
Legislation will be introduced into the Australian Parliament to reform carbon offsets and on the safeguard mechanism to help industry reduce emissions. The Academy says Australia needs a credible, high integrity and effective carbon offsets system.
June and December: The Australian Universities Accord was announced in 2022 as a long-term plan for Australia’s higher education system. The Accord Panel is currently engaging across the higher education sector and is due to issue an interim report in June 2023 and a final report in December 2023. The Academy made a submission to the Panel’s initial consultation on the Terms of Reference and looks forward to continuing to engage throughout the review process.
February: The House of Representatives Health Committee has begun an inquiry to look at the long-term effects of long COVID, which is disproportionately affecting young people and women. On 17 February, the Academy and the Academy of Health and Medical Sciences will hold an expert roundtable at Parliament House to highlight the latest scientific evidence on the issue.
Academy events to watch out for this year:
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