Bill Shorten calls for new focus on science

Australia must develop a national science, technology,
engineering and maths (STEM) strategy, according to Opposition leader Bill
Shorten.

AAP reports that Shorten (pictured) said in an address to the Science
Meets Parliament gathering in Canberra last night that science needs to be part
of Australia’s “national consciousness”.

“Science cannot be shunted away in one department or
viewed as a boutique industry for a niche market,” he said.

“Science needs a minister and a government that
understand it as the engine of productivity and jobs growth across all existing
and future industries.”

He added that there needs to be incentives for the private sector to invest in STEM.

There is much evidence to support Shorten’s views on the importance of STEM.

For example, according to ‘The Importance of Advanced
Physical and Mathematical Sciences to the Australian Economy’, a report commissioned
by Chief Scientist Ian Chubb and the Australian Academy of Sciences, advanced
sciences contribute more than $145 billion directly to the economy every year.

And science’s indirect contribution to the economy is
roughly $300 billion a year (over 22 per of GDP).

However, as the Australian points out the Opposition leader
has not specified how he would pay for such a focus. In a recent interview with ABC Radio’s Jon Faine, he refused to be drawn on the possibility of tax
increases.