Science was a strong and recurring theme of Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s Budget reply address, and the scientific and research community in Australia is entitled to feel encouraged, according to Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb.
In Thursday night’s address to Federal Parliament, Mr Shorten pledged to devote three percent of Australia’s GDP to research and development by the end of the next decade.
As well, he promised to improve the standard of science education by training 25,000 new teachers who are science and technology graduates, and writing off the HECS debts of 100,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics students.
There was a commitment also to encourage more women to study, teach and work in these fields.
“I believe Australia can be the science, start-up and technology capital of our region, attracting the best minds, supporting great institutions and encouraging home our great expats,” Mr Shorten said.
“Let us harness the power of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to prepare for the future.”
Professor Crabb said the fact that science was so ‘front and centre’ in Mr Shorten’s address, made it difficult to imagine he won’t be held to account.
“It’s a very encouraging sign that the message has been received by the Opposition that Australia’s future is just so dependent on universal scientific literacy and an emphasis on science, technology and innovation in everything we do,” Professor Crabb said.
Professor Crabb said the speech would have struck a chord with all Australians interested in improving the quality of life of the disadvantaged at home and abroad.
“Burnet is primarily driven by improving the health and welfare of mankind,” Professor Crabb said.
“At the centre of the approach we adopt to achieve that - the generation and application of new knowledge and innovation towards those humanitarian goals - is science.
“Any policy platform that puts science and technology, education and innovation at its heart is to be celebrated.”