Australia’s peak body in science & technology has called for science to be framed as a key political issue in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election.
Science & Technology Australia (STA), which brings together industry leaders from some of Australia’s top STEM organisations, released a communiqué on Tuesday detailing the importance of science in political debate.
“Collectively representing more than 70,000 Australian scientists and technologists through our membership and staff, we call for science to be a priority platform for the major parties’ campaigns in the next federal election,” the statement said.
“Science and technology will shape our future, but without adequate support and a high profile, [then] Australian science, innovation and discovery will fall by the wayside.”
Representing 50 major Australian organisations, including Australia’s Academic and Research Network, EQUS and Professionals Australia, the statement highlighted the need for a whole-of-government plan for science technology, saying “a government that uses science to inform and underpin its decisions will lead Australia to a brighter future.”
The importance of creating a digitally-enabled and scientifically skilled future workforce was also stressed, with the statement asking political leaders to create “a strategy to equip the future Australian workforce with STEM skills.”
It comes just days after the Federal Government released Gonski 2.0, which reported higher teacher vacancies in STEM subjects than in any other.
Among the key recommendations was an increased emphasis on ‘general capabilities’ in the Australian curriculum, including numeracy skills.
STA also asked the government to look at its research and development capacity, stating that “a government that fosters and rewards innovation and entrepreneurship will secure Australia’s economic success.”
This was met with a proposal for “a thorough and thoughtful response to the R&D Tax Incentive review”, with the goal of bolstering public-private collaboration in Australia.
In 2016 a review of the R&D Tax Incentive recommended a $2 million annual cap for smaller companies and a $20 million lifetime cap.
It is anticipated that some of these recommendations will be implemented in next week’s Federal Budget.