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New high tech scandal sours "one nation" science initiative



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Peter McGauran MP , „„.ΙΙΙΛ114 Shadow Miniscer for Science and Technology \%*>*>**m **s Federal Member for G ip pslan d '

PRESS RELEASE C° ^ O N ^ Z A ^ :

PASUAAi i r us« Y

NEW HIGH TECH SCANDAL SOURS "ONE NATION" SCIENCE INITIATIVE

In the wake of another scandal in Victoria's government-run high tech businesses sector, the Federal opposition has called on the Prime Minister to abandon plans to create a similar Commonwealth funded technology marketing company. ~

Victoria's $33 million Strategic Research Foundation, which was created in 1988 to promote research cooperation between the public and private sectors, has been rocked by claims,of financial mismangement. The sudden replacement of its Chairman and economic

guru of the Cain era, Dr Peter Sheehan, has destabilised the Foundation.

The Shadow Minister for Sciece and Technology, Peter McGauran, said today the series of bungled Government high tech schemes had scuttled investment confidence in vital science and technology developments.

Mr McGauran said plans announced in last month's One Nation statement to establish a $30 million Government-owned company to market the latest technologies should therefore be dropped immediately.

He said the proposed Australian Technology Group (ATG) should be transferred to the private sector rather than run the risk of yet another blunder.

"Australia's scientific community cannot afford to carry the can for the collapse of the scheme.

"The business community already consider investments in new technologies high risk and the emergence of a further government bureaucracy to hawk the latest research findings will prove destructive."

Mr McGauran said the Federal Government's technology marketing arm had been roundly condemned by the science community and had already lost all credibility.

He said the ATG would shatter the close relationships built up between private firms and researchers which had proved critical to making commercial products from new ideas.

"Neither the research community nor the private sector need more public servants to run their business," Mr McGauran said.

"The ATG only makes sense as a fully privately funded, commercially-driven concern," he said.

Mr McGauran said this week's announcement by CRA and BHP to establish a joint research and development fund signalled a more effective model for getting the best out of the local science effort.

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"Australia's scientists don’t want a Government quango flogging public research around the traps.

"They need an enlightened buoinoes sector capably of investing in the development of innovative technologies."

Mr McGauran said the formation of the ATG had been a recommendation of a recent Government report but the proviso the company operate on private sector lines had been dropped in the "One Nation" - statement.

For further information, contact Peter McGauran: (03) 347 0164 Monday, March 15, 1992 „