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Minister launches attack on science lobby



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PRESS RELEASE

Shadow Minister for Science & Technology Federal Member for Gippsland

MINISTER LAUNCHES ATTACK ON SCIENCE LOBBY

A Federal Government Minister has instigated an unprecedented attack on the nation's largest professional scientific representative body.

Stung by criticism of Government science policy in the latest newsletter distributed by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS), Science Minister Ross Free has challenged the organisation's professional integrity.

The attack, made in the attached correspondence directed to the President and the Board of FASTS, seeks a full retraction of claims that the Minister's recently released White Paper on Science had failed the scientific and technological community.

The Shadow Minister for Science and Technology, Peter McGauran, said today the attack signalled the collapse of the Minister's relationship with his own constituency.

Mr. McGauran said FASTS, which represents 60,000 of the nation's practising researchers and science academics, had been a forceful advocate for Australian science.

"But the Minister believes it's only serving "persona! and party-political whims" and lacks any representative authority," he said.

"If the Minister thinks he can use NSW Right thug tactics on the scientific community, he is sadly mistaken" Mr. McGauran said.

"FASTS is a powerful and organised voice for the nation's technological future, and it has a right to air its opinions.

"But with the election closing, the Minister has tried to gag the nation's scientists."

Mr. McGauran said the Minister's letter to the President and Board of FASTS had been menacing in tone.

"This is no more than a effort to heavy a key lobby group and it demonstrates the Minister's political and policy immaturity."

Mr. McGauran called on the Minister for Science to apologise publicly for the attack on FASTS.

"The scientific and technological research effort is crucial to the nation's search for a competitive future.

"But the Minister's behaviour threatens to crack the confidence of the research community in the Government's support for its endeavours," Mr. McGauran said.

For further information, contact Peter McGauran on (051) 44 6744. 17th November, 1992.

NB Editors : Please find attached the Ministers correspondence as directed the President of FASTS (2 pages) r — — ■ ■ ■ ..................■ ■ ■ ■ »

COMMONWEALTH PA RLIA M EN TA R Y LIBRARY M IC A H

H O N , ROSS FREE, MP MINISTER FORSCIBNCH k TECHNOLOGY M lN im f t A M tftW O T W M lM l M M t t P

1 3 N O V 18»

ΰ χ Dltta Bartel· P re sid e n t Federation of Australian S cientific and Technological societies

The University of N|W 90 Box 1 '

KENSINGTON NSW 8033

Drifr. Dear Dj^jBerW lT Since becoming Minister for Science and Technology# I have put considerable effo rt into Wilding close links with the Australian science community# through bodies euoh as

fasts. To its credit# and thanks particularly to your effort·# I believe that FASTS has responded in kind.

such cooperation ha· paid-off handsomely for the science community, most recently in the Government *· 1335 million new funding package in the Science white Paper.

X was therefore to ta lly unprepared for the vicious and unprovoked attack on both myself and the Government in the ed ito rial of the October fasts Newsletter (copy attached),

x would be astonished if the views expressed in the article represent your views or those of the FAST* Board, in fact your recent comments# both in public and private# suggest quite the contrary. I understand that the Newsletter was prepared by the Executive Director without reference to the Board# in which case the views expressed must be taken as

his and his alone.

However in the abaenoe of any disclaimer to th a t effect# these views can only be read by member societies as being those of the FAST· Board.

I cannot sta te firmly enough my opinion th at such unnecessary and ill-informed commentary does fast· no good in the eye· of the Government or the Australian science community. Judging from discussions X have already had#

the Newsletter has considerably damaged FASTS reputation ss a professional, representative body. Zf anything i t lends credence to the recent call of the In stitu tio n of Engineers for a new body to more effectively represent the nation's

sc ie n tists.

. ϊ ■ ! U .

2

X believe that iASTS future v iab ility will be placed in great danger if i t if seen to be serving personal and p arty -p o litical whins,

In the interests of the national science e ffo rt, x am willing to help repair the damage, At a f i r s t step t suggest th at you raise the issue as a matter of urgency at the next PASTS Board meeting, *

X look forward to seeing the outcome of th at discussion and the aotion proposed by the Board, in p a rticu lar, I wish to know whether the Board endorse» the views expressed in the newsletter, and i f not, what action i t proposes to inform

its member societies in th is regard,

I have copied this le tte r to a ll pasts Board members.

Yours sincerely

PRESS RELEASE

The CSIRO is set to deploy a new generation of automated environmental policemen, a national conference of water management experts was told today.

Providing the keynote address to the Eighth Biennial Australasian Hydrography Conference in Canberra today, the Shadow Minister for Science and Technology, Peter McGauran, said new monitoring technologies would soon allow for around the clock surveillance of the nation's waterways to detect breaches of environmental laws.

Mr McGauran said the CSIRO had developed a fully automated environmental probe which could detect pollutants and chemical and nutrient changes in rivers and oceans.

He said the probe could be used to police industrial and mining outflows and give early warning of increases in pollutant levels.

"The new probes are small, totally independent, self-maintaining systems based on the latest 'smart technologies', Mr McGauran said.

"They even have the capability of transmitting data automatically to scientists by telephone or through satellite and landbased cellular networks.

"The technology will enable 24 hour security for the nation's environment."

Mr McGauran said the new probes would also allow for early warning against floods and provide advanced notice of ecological disasters such §s algae-blooms or salinity build ups in rivers. /

Mr McGauran said the new environmental smart technologies would eventually sweep aside traditional manual measurement and data collection procedures used by scientists and meteorologists.

"The probes are fitted with a sensors which allow them simultaneously to monitor up to 30 features of the marine environment," he said.

"Researchers will hardly have to set foot in the field and monitoring of remote waterways will be more efficient and less costly."

Mr McGauran said the probe, which the CSIRO was commercialising in collaboration with an Australian company, signalled the local hydrographic research effort was a world leader.

Peter McGauran MP Shadow Minister for Science and Technology Federal Member for Gippsland

TECHNOLOGY SET TO POLICE ENVIRONMENT

For further information, contact Peter McGauran: 06 - 277 4199

Tuesday, November 10,1992

COMMONWEALTH

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