1. Minister for Science and Research
The Science party strongly believes that the government needs a dedicated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) focus in the cabinet. This minister's portfolio will include the government overseeing of:
- Appropriate funding in line with the Science party policy;
- Science and technology research;
- Direct links with the Education, innovation, industry and business ministers and portfolios;
- Regular and direct links with the Chief scientist of Australia and the state and territory chief scientists;
- Regular and direct contact with the Australian space agency, ASTRA.
Australia is one of the few developed countries in the world without a dedicated Science Minister, and this is to our detriment. The lack of a Science Minister diminishes the importance of science and research in the eyes of the Australian public and communicates that a government is not committed to science and research.
2. Minister for Innovation and Industry
In addition to a dedicated Science and Research Minister, the Science Party will appoint an Innovation and Industry Minister for specific duties relating to:
- Investment in Science and Technology;
- Liaising with industry and appropriate stakeholders; and
- Direct links with the Science and Research, Education and Business Ministers and portfolios.
3. Increased investment in science and technology research
3.1. Policy: Double governmental scientific and technological research spending from the current $9.2 billion (0.56% of GDP) to $18.4 billion. Plan for the future through targeted government investment in areas which encourage economic and technological development, such as:
- Health and biomedical research
- Computer science
3.2. Discussion: The Science Party believes that scientific research and technological development hold the key to Australia’s success in the future. The Science Party wants Australia to be a place that is known for its science and technology sector. To do this, we need to build a strong research industry, while training people to have the skills that this industry will require.
Among OECD nations, Australia is among the lowest for public spending on research. Doubling our current figure will put us near the top of this list.
4. Nuclear Research
The Science Party would like to see Australia play host to or aid research into new nuclear reactor designs that can be used for energy generation. Please also see our energy policy, including Renewable Energy and Nuclear Energy Research Reactors.
4.1. Policy: The Science Party has a policy of maintaining the existing facilities at the Open Pool Australian Lightwater reactor (OPAL).
4.2. Discussion: Nuclear reactors represent a unique environmental challenge, as nuclear reactors produce byproducts that are potentially harmful over long periods. Despite this, nuclear reactors play an important role in modern energy production, medicine and research.
OPAL (otherwise known as the Lucas Heights reactor) provides isotopes necessary for nuclear medicine for those in Australia, as well as many countries in the South Pacific. It also provides an important facility for nuclear research. The Science Party has an explicit policy of maintaining existing facilities at OPAL. If the need arises for an extension of nuclear research capabilities and medical isotope production, a new reactor could possibly be built in Western Australia to better provide medical isotopes for those living in western and central Australia.
The Science Party has a separate Space Policy detailing the steps that Australia should take into this field, which would benefit both Australia and the space industry.