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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 51

National Innovation and Science Agenda


Mr WILLIAMS (Hindmarsh) (14:56): My question is to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. Will the minister update the House on how the National Innovation and Science Agenda will give students and teachers the skills and confidence needed to embrace new technologies? How has the National Innovation and Science Agenda been received?


Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House, Minister for Industry and Innovation and Science) (14:56): I am very pleased to receive this question from the member for Hindmarsh, because, as he would remember—as would members of the House—the government launched its National Innovation and Science Agenda in December last year. It has been extremely well received, which I will get to a bit later in the answer to this question. Most recently, the minister for education, Senator Birmingham, and I, launched the first, quite small, part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda—but a significant part—a $7 million commitment by this government to support the University of Adelaide's program that delivers training for teachers in the digital space to encourage students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

As the Prime Minister said earlier in question time, despite the 100 per cent increase in spending on schools from the late 1980s to 2012, our outcomes have declined relatively and in absolute terms, but in science, technology, engineering and maths this is particularly pronounced. One of the aspects of the National Innovation and Science Agenda was an $84 million commitment to supporting STEM subjects and teachers in schools. On 22 January, we announced the first spending commitment, as part of the $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda, at the University of Adelaide in the member for Hindmarsh and my home state—$7 million to expand the University of Adelaide's program that teaches teachers online about encouraging STEM in schools.

The National Innovation and Science Agenda is a transformative document. It is a $1.1 billion commitment across 24 different measures that will transform our economy as part of the transition and as part of dealing with the uncertainty in the world economy that Australia is meeting at this time. It has been well received—very well received. The Australian Industry Group said:

The Government is leading from the front in forging the cultural changes necessary to embed innovation more deeply in our national consciousness and in our economy.

Simon Talbert, the CEO of the National Farmers Federation—and farmers are naturally innovators in the same way as they are naturally environmentalists, because they are forced to change their circumstances to meet the needs of their farms and, as a consequence, they have been at the forefront of innovation in our economy for a couple of hundred years. Simon Talbert said:

Today’s announcements facilitate better commercialisation of innovative ideas and research outcomes and in an agriculture context this will mean more farm-ready technology available more quickly.

This means more jobs; it means more growth. It means the commercialisation of the research that we do so well in Australia. It is good for the Australian economy and it helps us meet the headwinds that we face in the world economy.