AQ: Australian Quarterly
Anna-maria Arabia is the Chief Executive of the Australian Academy of Science.
Economic bodies like the Productivity Commission have repeatedly demonstrated that stimulating R&D is the most promising source of future productivity growth. Growing the knowledge economy can lead to significant job growth, inform future industries, and protect Australia’s sovereign interests whilst positioning our nation for meaningful global cooperation and effective science diplomacy.
Productivity dividends can be delivered but they require a longterm investment plan underpinned by a national review of science and research.
The base for Australia’s existing research system is thirty years old, with piecemeal measures having led to a system that is spread over 202 programs and 13 federal portfolios, creating inefficiency and a system that is neither fit for purpose nor able to support the needs of a modern thriving R&D sector.
Reform can commence once the entire research system is reviewed and redesigned, enabling structural changes that address fragmentation and that adopt mechanisms to incentivise both knowledge creation and its application.
Imperative is nurturing a love for science from early education such that it fuels the development of a highly-skilled workforce able to harness the opportunities emerging from our research and its application. Not everyone needs to be a scientist, but everyone should finish school understanding the implications of science in their lives and future. A coherent policy would link all stages of the education and skill development pipeline.
Such reforms would see science valued and strategically positioned to drive our economy, and inform decision-making in and between government, in parliaments, in our courts, our classrooms, in boardrooms and in the public square.