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Research and technology: future directions



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HON. ROSS FREE, M P MINISTER FOR

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

N

STATEMENT BY ROSS FREE

MINISTER FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

AND

MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR SCIENCE

ON THE TABLING OF

RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY; FUTURE DIRECTIONS

A REPORT TO THE PRIME MINISTER BY THE AUSTRALIAN

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL

C O M M O N W E A L T H \ PARLIAM ENTARY LIBRARY M IC A H I

THURSDAY, 17 OCTOBER 1991

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STATEMENT BY ROSS FREE, MINISTER FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR SCIENCE, ON THE TABLING OF RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGYs FUTURE DIRECTIONS. A REPORT TO THE PRIME MINISTER BY THE AUSTRALIAN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL

For the information of honourable Members I present a report by the Australian Science and Technology Council (ASTEC) entitled Research and Technology: Future Directions.

Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement on the report.

In May 1989 a Government Statement, Science and Technology for Australia, set out in a comprehensive manner the Government's approach to science and technology.

Following on from this, ASTEC's 1990 report, Setting Directions for Australian Research, recommended that the Government's approach to science and technology policy formulation be continually refined and developed by way of

a rolling 4-year review process through which broad national directions for science and technology policy could be set.

Subsequently, the Government asked ASTEC to prepare an issues and options report which would prepare the way for the first White Paper on Science and Technology, due to be tabled in May 1992.

Research and Technology: Future Directions is ASTEC's response to this request.

While providing the foundation on which the White Paper will be built, this report will not be the sole contributor. Others will include:

. ASTEC's current review of the need for major national research facilities;

. the continuing work of the Coordination Committee on Science and Technology;

. discussions at the Prime Minister's Science Council; and

. consideration of the conclusions of the two Task Forces which are examining the commercialisation of research. I expect to receive the report of the group Chaired by Mr Ray Block by the end of the month.

ASTEC's production of Research and Technology; Future Directions has required an unprecedented level of consultation with those who have an interest in the direction of research and technology policy in Australia.

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This included the review of nearly 200 submissions, meetings in all major capital cities, and an intensive interview program with over 100 top-level managers in industry and government.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to ASTEC and its Secretariat for its dedication and persistence in carrying through this task.

In many ways the consultative process has been as important as the report itself, by involving so many across the nation in considering future directions for science and technology.

Following release of the Report, ASTEC has arranged for the consultation process to continue through discussion sessions being held across the nation.

The contents of ASTEC's report range widely across all national areas where research and technology can be brought to bear. The principal issues and options fall under five main headings:

. research, technology and international competitiveness;

. energy and environment;

. the quality of Australian life;

. managing Australia's research resources; and

. the role of the Commonwealth and States in research and technology policy.

This Report, and the debate that it will stimulate, will be a major input to the White Paper process of shaping the future directions of research, science and technology policy in Australia.

It will have a substantial impact on the future development of science and technology in Australia and at the same time will contribute to lifting the level of awareness of the important role that science and technology can play in meeting national goals.

I urge all Members to give consideration to the Report and to the White Paper process which will culminate in its tabling in this House in May next year.