AWORD

AQ: Australian Quarterly - - CONTENTS -

‘Have you tried to turn it off and on again?’ Since John Howard left of­fice, no Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter has sur­vived from one elec­tion to the next. Af­ter a decade of poi­soned chal­ices, late-night knif­ings, par­lia­men­tary chaos, and in­creas­ing par­ti­san­ship, it’s safe to say that treat­ing our democ­racy like a paral­ysed com­puter has done noth­ing to re­lieve the paral­y­sis in Can­berra. Quite the op­po­site. Vot­ers re­alised this years ago and have pun­ished the ma­jor par­ties ac­cord­ingly. Now, de­spite Tony Ab­bott’s con­tin­ued in­sid­i­ous pres­ence in par­lia­ment, it seems that the penny might have dropped for the Lib­eral Party, hav­ing spec­tac­u­larly ceded the moral high ground they so righ­teously held over La­bor’s Killing Sea­son. Mean­while, Aus­tralian sci­ence has been chug­ging along, con­tin­u­ing to turn out world-class sci­en­tists and re­search. With sci­ence so read­ily politi­cised in par­lia­ment and the me­dia, sci­en­tists them­selves are in­creas­ingly re­quired to act as a po­lit­i­cal voice to warn against our chang­ing cli­mate and the risks to the Reef, agri­cul­ture, the econ­omy, and our way-of-life. As if this weren’t enough, de­spite be­ing re­spected as one of the great sci­ence na­tions of the world, Aus­tralian sci­ence is fac­ing its own ex­is­ten­tial threats. To name but a few, these in­clude: de­clin­ing ed­u­ca­tion out­comes in STEM; long-term fund­ing cuts to CSIRO; a lack of sus­tain­able univer­sity fund­ing; and lit­tle for­ward-think­ing in­vest­ment in the man­u­fac­tur­ing and tech­nolo­gies of the fu­ture… Af­ter a decade of the worst of po­lit­i­cal short-ter­mism, now is the time for a true re­set. It is up to who­ever leads Aus­tralia in 2019 to take a sys­tem-level ap­proach to Aus­tralia’s sci­en­tific, eco­nomic, and en­vi­ron­men­tal place in the world. In this edi­tion sev­eral of Aus­tralia’s most re­spected pub­lic voices tackle some of these is­sues, in­clud­ing the em­i­nent Ge­of­frey Robert­son QC, David Rit­ter, head of Green­peace Aus­tralia, and Pro­fes­sor Veena Sahajwalla from UNSW. Whether it’s cli­mate change, the re­cy­cling cri­sis, or in­ter­na­tional cor­rup­tion, we need to change how we see, think, and talk about the chal­lenges we are fac­ing as a so­ci­ety. The old ways may no longer be the best ways. Happy read­ing!

Grant Mills

Ed­i­tor-at-large

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