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Australian vice-chancellors committee



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ADDRESS BY SENATOR THE HON. JOHN N. BUTTON

M IN IS T E R FOR INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE

AUSTRALIAN VICE-CHANCELLORS COMMITTEE

MELBOURNE - 17 NOVEMBER 1 9 8 4

Ί WOULD LIK E TO BEGIN BY SAYING THAT I REGARD THE S IG N IFIC A N C E

OF MY ATTENDANCE HERE TODAY AS CONSISTING NOT SO MUCH IN MY BEING

ASKED TO TALK ON A " P O L IT IC IA N 'S VIEW OF U N IV E R S IT IE S " , AS IN THE

FACT THAT AN INDUSTRY M IN IS TE R IS ACTUALLY S IT T IN G DOWN TO TALK

WITH VICE-CHANCELLORS OF A U STRA LIA'S U N IV E R S IT IE S ,

I WISH TO SPEAK TODAY MAINLY AS AN INDUSTRY M IN IS T E R . I AM

SURE THAT IF YOU SIMPLY WANTED A P O L IT IC IA N 'S VIEW , THERE ARE

ANY NUMBER WHO WOULD OBLIGE, AND YOU WOULD HEAR ALL SORTS OF VIEWS -

VARYING NO DOUBT BETWEEN THE EXTRAORDINARY AND THE B IZA R R E,

IN DEFENCE OF THE P O L IT IC IA N 'S VIE W , HOWEVER, LET ME SAY THAT IF

THEY DID NOT MORE OR LESS REFLECT PUBLIC VIEW S, THEN THE P O L IT IC IA N S

WOULD NOT BE THERE. THAT MEANS IN THEORY AT LEAST THAT YOU WOULD BE

GETTING THE P U B L IC 'S VIEW S, AND U N IV E R S IT IE S , IN THE END RESULT,

RELY ON PUBLIC SUPPORT.

AS FAR AS I KNOW , . . / 2 .

Page 2.

AS FAR AS I KNOW, TH IS IS THE FIRST TIME THIS TYPE OF MEETING

HAS HAPPENED. SO WAS THE RECENT MEETING WITH THE BUSINESS

COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA. I THINK THAT TH IS IS A VERY HOPEFUL

DEVELOPMENT AND ONE WHICH I TRUST IS A FURTHER STEP IN GETTING

INDUSTRY AND U NIVERS ITIE S CLOSER TOGETHER. IT IS ON THAT SUBJECT THA'

I WISH TO SPEAK TODAY. OUR TRADITION IN AUSTRALIA IS ONE OF

ALMOST COMPLETE SEPARATION OF UNIVERS ITIE S FROM INDUSTRY - ALTHOUGH "

THERE ARE SOME NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS TO THAT WHICH I WILL COME TO.

AUSTRALIAN U NIV E R S ITIE S HAVE FOLLOWED THE BRITISH TRADITION

RATHER THAN THE AMERICAN, OR EVEN THE GERMAN. IT IS A TRADITION

WHICH HAS DEEP, HISTORICAL ROOTS, AMOUNTING IN ITS EXTREME FORMS TO

CONTEMPT, ONE FOR THE OTHER, I SUSPECT THAT IT WAS AN OXFORD AND

CAMBRIDGE VERSION OF THE ENGLISH UPPER-CLASS VERSION TO 'T R A D E '.

IF I AM RIGHT, IT IS INDEED INCONGRUOUS THAT IN LATE TWENTIETH

CENTURY AUSTRALIA WE SHOULD BE THE V IC T IM OF THAT.

Page 3.

FOR A COUPLE OF MORE GENERAL AND S E E P IN G VIEW S, I WOULD LIKE

TO READ TWO QUOTATIONS. F IR S T , FROM E . J . MI SHAM, A RATHER

LITERATE ECONOMIST FROM THE L . S . E . :

" . . . T H E IDEA OF THE UNIVERSITY AS A COMMUNITY OF SCHOLARS,

OR AS THE GUARDIAN OF C IV IL IS E D VALUES, HAS BECOME AN

ANACHRONISM. DEVELOPMENTS SINCE T H E . WAR HAVE MADE IT

ABUNDANTLY EVIDENT THAT THE UNIVERSITY CAN NO LONGER BE

THOUGHT OF AS A SORT OF SECULAR CATHEDRAL CONDUCIVE TO

DETACHED REFLECTION OR ELECTRIC DEBATE. THE EXPANDED

UNIVERSITY IS TENDING TO BECOME A MICROCOSM OF THE REAL

w o r l d . I n to i t are im p o r t e d a l l t h e p o l i t i c a l p a s s io n s and

PREJUDICES, THE FASHIONABLE ABBERATIONS AND THE 'TRENDY'

DEVIANT MOVEMENTS OF THE OUTER WORLD - THOUGHT OFTEN ON SO

DISTORTED A SCALE AS TO GIVE CERTAIN U N IV E R S ITIE S A

• REPUTATION OF BEING A HOT-HOUSE OF INTELLECTUAL INTOLERANCE, OR

A SEMINARY OF WIERD CULTS. IT IS SAID TO REFLECT THAT,

ON SO MANY OCCASIONS OVER THE LAST DECADE, THE ONE PLACE WHERE

A CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE COULD ΜΏΙ BE DEBATED IN THE LIBERAL

DEMOCRACIES OF THE WEST WAS THE UN IV ER SITY.

T h u s , far from b e i n g a c o m m u n it y of d i s i n t e r e s t e d s c h o l a r s ,

EXERTING AN INDEPENDENT AND C IV IL IS E D INFLUENCE ON S IC IE T Y , THE

MODERN UNIVERSITY I S , AT BEST, A RATHER MUDDLED REFLECTION OF

SOCIETY AT LARGE, ITS CHIEF FUNCTION BEING TO SUPPLY SOCIETY'S

NEEDS, REAL OR IMAGINARY, FOR TRAINED PERSONNEL IN THE ATTEMPT

TO MAINTAIN THE MOMENTUM OF ECONOMIC GROWTH. A t WORST,

SINCE SO MANY STUDENTS . . . / 4 ,

Page 4,

" s in c e so many s t u d e n t s t o d a y s ee t h e m s e l v e s as t r a n s i e n t s ,

PASSING THROUGH THE UNIVERSITY BUT NOT OF I T , THEY TEND TO REGARD

IT AS A PERMISSIVE RATHER THAN A LIBERAL INSTITUTIO N. I n

CONSEQUENCE, THE FASHIONABLE VULGARITIES AND EXCESSES THAT ARE

TAKING HOLD IN THE AFFLUENT SOCIETY FIND ALL'TOO-READY A RECEPTIO

ON THE CAMPUS. I f POST-WAR EXPERIENCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION

HAS SHOWN ANYTHING, IT HAS SHOWN THAT 'MORE IS WORSE',"

AND NOW, FROM PETER SAMUEL OF THE BULLETIN:- ARTICULATING -

A FEW YEARS AGO ADMITTEDLY - SOME OF THE PREJUDICES WITH WHICH

UNIVERSITIES HAVE HAD TO CONTEND:

"Ac a d e m ia i s Au s t r a l i a ' s most o v e r - p r o te c te d in d u s t r y ,

ACADEMICS ARE THE MOST OVER-INDULGED RECIPIENTS OF TAX-PAID

HANDOUTS. IT IS TO BE EXPECTED THEN THAT MANY OF THESE

PRIVILEGED AND SPOILT PEOPLE WILL REACT STRONGLY WHEN

SOMEONE POINTS OUT JUST HOW WELL THEY ARE DOING AT THE

EXPENSE OF THE COMMUNITY, AND HOW LITTLE THEY GIVE IN

RETURN."

■THERE IS SOME SUBSTANCE IN THE QUOTATION FROM E. J . MISHAN.

BUT THAT NOTWITHSTANDING, LET ME STRESS THAT I HAVE A CONSIDERABLE

RESPECT FOR WHAT OUGHT ALWAYS TO BE UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED VALUES OF

FREE INTELLECTUAL INQUIRY AND INDEPENDENCE.

BUT UNIVERSITIES MUST ALSO . . . / 5 ,

Page 5,

BUT U N IV E R S IT IE S MUST 6LSu' DO TH IN G S , WHETHER IN TEACHING OR 1 ' .

RESEARCH, WHICH ARE IMPORTANT TO THE ECONOMIC L IF E OF THE COUNTRY.

IT IS NOT A QUESTION OF PROVIDING 'B A L A N C E '. BALANCE IS OFTEN

JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR COMPROMISE, WHICH OFTEN DOES MEAN M EDIO CRITY.

IT IS MORE A QUESTION, I B E L IE V E , OF ENGAGING IN MANY A C T IV IT IE S

UNDER THE ONE ROOF, OF RECOGNISING THAT THESE A C T IV IT IE S SHOULD

REFLECT S O C IETY'S A C T IV IT IE S , AND RECOGNISING THAT EACH MUST

STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE. WHAT IS ESSEN TIAL, IN THE CONTEXT OF

TODAY'S DISCUSSION IN PARTICULAR, IS TO RID OURSELVES OF THE

CONCEPT THAT APPLIED SCIENCE OR ENGINEERING IS IN SOME WAY

INFERIOR TO THE MORE TRADITIO NAL STU D IES.

IT SHOULD BE REMEMBERED , . . / 6 .

Page 6.

IT SHOULD BE REMEMBERED THAT WHEN PHYSICS' CHEMISTRY WERE . j, -

F IR S T STUDIED IN U N IV E R S IT IE S IN ENGLAND IN THE NINETEENTH

CENTURY, THEY WERE REGARDED AS IN FER IO R BY ΓΗΕ SCHOLARS OF

CLASSICS, LITERATURE AND MATHEMATICS, ONE COULD HARDLY SAY

TODAY THAT THE INTELLECTUAL CONTENT OF THOSE SUBJECTS IS IN

ANYWAY LESS OR INFERIO R TO THE TR A D ITIO N A L SUBJECTS,

BUT IT TOOK ABOUT 1 0 0 YEARS FOR THE TR A D ITIO N A LIS TS TO COME

TO RECOGNISE THAT. TODAY THE SPEED OF ADAPTION TO THE RELEVANT

MODERN WORLD WOULD BE GREATER THAN THAT,

MY CONCERN, AND MY B E L IE F THAT U N IV E R S IT IE S MUST BE ENLISTED IN

THE NATIONAL TASK STEMS FROM OBSERVATION OF THE STATE OF OUR

INDUSTRY AND TRADE, IN THE CONTEXT OF BROADER NATIONAL ISSUES.

B R IE F L Y , THAT OBSERVATION

Page 7,

B R IEFLY, THAT OBSERVATION IS THAT WE ARE GEOGRAPHICALLY PART

OF THE FASTEST GROWING AREA OF THE WORLD - NAMELY THE P A C IF IC

RIM - BUT WE ARE IL L-E Q U IP P E D TO PA RTIC IPA TE IN THAT GROWTH.

WE FIND OURSELVES IN THE 1 9 8 0 's LOCKED INTO BEING A SUPPLIER OF

RAW MATERIALS FOR WHICH THERE IS AN UNCERTAIN MARKET AT BEST.

WE HAVE A FRAGMENTED, POORLY-EQUIPPED MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY, DESIGNED

PRIMARILY FOR IMPORT REPLACEMENT, RATHER THAN FOR EXPORT. WE ARE

UNDER TREMENDOUS COMPETITIVE PRESSURE FROM OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE

REGION, COUNTRIES WHICH ONLY A >E W YEARS AGO, FROM OUR ASSUMED

POSITION OF ANGLO-SAXON SU PER IO R ITY, WE CONSIDERED UNDER-DEVELOPED.

WE DO VERY L IT T L E INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT.

WE ARE NOT ONLY POORLY EQUIPPED , , . / 8 .

Page 8,

WE ARE NOT ONLY POORLY EQUIPPED INDUSTRIALLY TO MEET THIS

CHALLENGE, WE ARE POORLY EQUIPPED CULTURALLY, WE GO TO ASIA, WE DO

BUSINESS AND NEGOTIATE WITH ASIANS, BUT WE HAVE ONLY SCATTERED

TEACHING OF ASIAN LANGUAGES, CULTURE AND HISTORY. WE ARE BETTER

THAN WE USED RECENTLY TO BE, BUT THERE IS S T IL L A LONG WAY TO GO,

IT IS AGAINST THAT DIAGNOSIS THAT I WISH TO TALK OF MY VIEW OF

U N IV E R S IT IE S .' I SHALL TALK MAINLY OF INDUSTRY AND UNIVERSITIES,

BUT I HAVE JUST MENTIONED LANGUAGES AND RELATED MAHERS - A TOPIC

WHICH I HAVE BEEN SPEAKING ON FOR A GOOD MANY YEARS. THE

U N IV E R S IT IE S ' ROLE IN CORRECTING THESE DEFICIENCIES IS OBVIOUS.

PARTLY, I SUPPOSE, THE REASON THAT UNIVERSITIES ARE NOT MORE

INVOLVED IN INDUSTRY MATTERS LIES IN THE HISTORY OF INDUSTRY, UP TO

NOW, SECONDARY INDUSTRY IN AUSTRALIA HAS SEEN ITSELF AS AM

IMPORT REPLACEMENT A C T IV IT Y , WITH ONLY PERIPHERAL ATTENTION TO EXPORT.

ALONG WITH THAT , , , / 9 ,

Page 9.

ALONG WITH THAT, THERE HAS BEEN VERY L IT T L E CONCENTRATION ON

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT BY INDUSTRY IT S E L F , BY GOVERNMENT

RESEARCH IN S T IT U T IO N S OR, INDEED, BY ANYONE AT A LL. U N IV E R S IT IE S

WERE THUS NO EXCEPTION.

BUT, BY THE SAME TOKEN, INDUSTRY AND GOVERNMENT RESEARCH BODIES

ARE BEGINNING TO GET INTERESTED.

IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THE CONTRAST WITH AGRICULTURE, WHERE

TH IS COUNTRY HAS ALWAYS HAD EXPORT ORIENTED INDUSTRY, AND WHERE A WHOLE

RANGE OF PROBLEMS HAVE HAD TO BE SOLVED IN EVOLVING METHODS SUITED

TO OUR ENVIRONMENT. WHICH IS SO VERY DIFFERENT TO THE NORTHERN

HERMISPHERE ENVIRONMENT, FROM WHICH OUR TECHNOLOGY O RIG INALLY CAME.

IN THAT F IE L D , IN A QUIET WAY . . . / 1 0 .

Page 1.0

IN THAT FIE LD , IN A QUIET WAY, U N IVER S ITIE S HAVE LONG PLAYED A

DIRECT ROLE IN RESEARCH AND RESEARCH-RELATED SERVICES, AND IN THE

DISSEMINATION OF KNOWLEDGE TO THE INDUSTRY, AS DISTINC T FROM

TEACHING. IF ONE LOOKS AT THE OLDER STATE UNIVERSITIES IN

AUSTRALIA - THE ONES WHICH EXISTED PRIOR TO THE EXPANSION

PERIOD OF THE F IF T IE S AND S IX T IE S - YOU FIND THAT EACH OF THEM

HAD TH IS ROLE. ONE NEED ONLY LOOK AT THE WAITE

INSTITUTE IN ADELAIDE, AT THE VARIOUS ANIMAL AND CROP

HUSBANDRY CENTRES OF SYDNEY UNIVERSITY, AND AT SIMILAR

INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS MOUNT DERRIMUT AT MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY.

' . ■ * ■ t _ . I -

EACH OF THESE INSTITUTIO NS HAD, AND HAS, STRONG CONTACT WITH THE

INDUSTRIES THEY SERVE, AND WITH RESEARCH AND EXTENSION PEOPLE IN

STATE AND COMMONWEALTH SERVICES, THEY HAVE BEEN VERY ACTIVE IN

FIELDS SUCH AS PLANT BREEDING AND GENETICS. FOR MANY YEARS

SYDNEY UNIVERSITY, FOR EXAMPLE, WAS THE LEADING BREEDING CENTRE IN .. ,/U

AUSTRALIA.

Page l l .

MANY OF THESE A C T IV IT IE S HAVE INDUSTRY FUNDING.

SO THERE IS NOTHING NEW IN U N IV E R S IT IE S BECOMING INVOLVED IN

INDUSTRY. WHAT IS NEW IS THE CHALLENGE TO WORK OUT THE

APPROPRIATE WAYS OF INTERACTING WITH THE MANUFACTURING OR

SERVICE IN D USTRIES. .

SOME ARE ALREADY WELL ON THE WAY TO DOING T H IS - I WAS RECENTLY

DELIGHTED TO BE ASKED TO THE OPENING CEREMONY OF A COMPANY CALLED

LUMINIS PTY LTD, FORMED BY THE U N IV E R S ITY OF ADELAIDE TO MARKET

RESULTS OF UNIVERSITY WORK. I FOUND THAT THAT UNIVERSITY ALREADY i ■ - :: u ; · ' . ■ ■ ■ · . ; . : ,

HAD A NUMBER OF OTHER COMPANIES INVOLVED IN EXPLOITATION OF RESEARCH

IN THE U N IV E R S IT Y 'S LABORATORIES. OTHER U N IV E R S IT IE S , I KNOW,

HAVE S IM ILA R VENTURES.

IN MY O PINIO N . . . / 1 2 .

Page 12,

IN MY O P IN IO N , THE T IM E HAS NEVER BEEN MORE SUITABLE, FROM THAT

INTELLECTUAL CHALLENGE POINT OF VIEW , FOR U N IV E R S IT IE S TO BECOME

INVOLVED IN INDUSTRY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. WE HAVE ENTERED A

TIM E WHEN THE LINKS BETWEEN THE INTELLECTUAL PRODUCTS OF ADVANCED

RESEARCH IN THE,SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING AND THE PHYSICAL PRODUCTS

OF INDUSTRY ARE BECOMING CLOSER AND MORE D IR E C T .

T H IS IS TRUE OF WHAT I SEE AS THE TWO ARMS OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY

APPLICATIO N TO INDUSTRY. F IR S T , SUCH THINGS AS THE NEW PRODUCTS

OF BIOTECHNOLOGY, ADVANCED MATERIALS IN PLASTICS AND METALS ARE

DIRECT PRODUCTS OF PRESENT DAY FRONT LIN E RESEARCH IN SUCH FIELDS

AS MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, ORGANIC CHEMISTRY AND THE VARIOUS MATERIALS

SCIENCES. IN FACT, THE PLACES WHICH MAKE THESE THINGS LOOK

IN D ISTIN G U ISH A B LE FROM THE RESEARCH LABORATORY.

SECONDLY, MUCH OF ADVANCED.. . 7 1 3 .

Page 13 ,

SECONDLY, MUCH OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY IS ABOUT THE APPLICATION

OF TECHNOLOGY TO NEW PRODUCTION PROCESSES OF EXISTING PRODUCTS.

IT CONCERNS, FOR INSTANCE, THE DEVELOPMENT OF ROBOTICS, DESIGN

METHODS OR, PERHAPS, NEW METHODS OF INDUSTRIAL COATINGS.

THESE ARE PROCESSES CLOSELY RELATED TO QUITE DEMANDING S C IE N T IF IC

OR MATHEMATICAL ENDEAVOUR. .

THEY ARE NOT OLD INDUSTRIAL PROCESSES THAT HAVE BEEN AROUND

FOR MANY YEARS. I THEREFORE BELIEVE THAT UNIVERSITIES ARE ONE OF THE

NATURAL PLACES FOR TH IS SORT OF WORK, BOTH FOR THE CONTRIBUTION THEY

CAN MAKE, AND FOR THE ORIENTATION THEY WILL THEREBY IMPART TO THEIR

STUDENTS, MANY OF WHOM W ILL, I HOPE, GO OUT INTO INDUSTRY IN DUE COURSi

WE ALL GET A LITTLE TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT SILICON VALLEY, AND ROUTE

128 IN BOSTON, BUT THAT IS A FEATURE OF THOSE PLACES, AND IT HAS BEEN

A FEATURE OF AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES FOR A LONG TIM E . AGAIN I STRESS

MY BELIEF THAT IT NEED INVOLVE NO DIMINUATION OF INTELLECTUAL

EXCELLENCE OR RIGOUR. . . . / 1 4 .

Page 14.

I WOULD IMAGINE THAT THERE IS NOW GOING THROUGH YOUR MINDS

THE THOUGHT THAT IF THE GOVERNMENT IS SO KEEN TO SEE UNIVERSITIES

INVOLVE THEMSELVES IN INDUSTRY RESEARCH, WHY THE PARSIMONY ON

A . R . G. S . FUNDING AND WHERE, GENERALLY, IS THE MONEY TO COME FROM?

I REALISE THAT UNIVERSITIES ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THE FUNDING OF

THE AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH GRANTS SCHEME THIS YEAR, AND I DON'T WISH

TO AVOID THAT ISSUE.

IN THIS YEAR'S BUDGET, AN AMOUNT OF $ 3 0 .2 MILLION WAS ALLOCATED FOR

RESEARCH GRANTS SCHEMES AND FELLOWSHIPS FOR 1 9 3 4 -8 5 , COMPARED

TO $ 2 4 .9 ACTUALLY SPENT IN 1 9 8 3 -8 4 .

FOR THE CALENDAR YEAR 1 9 8 5 , $ 2 3 .8 8 MILLION WAS PROVIDED, COMPARED

TO $ 2 2 .4 2 FOR 1 9 8 4 . THAT IS AN INCREASE OF 6.5% WHICH ALLOWS FOR

INFLATION (OR POSSIBLY RATHER MORE - I AM NOT MAKING PREDICTIONS

ON THE PRESENT CLIM ATE!) I UNDERSTAND THAT . . . 7 1 5 ,

Page l 5.

I UNDERSTAND THAT $65 MILLION WORTH OF APPLICATIONS WAS RECEIVED,

OF WHICH ABOUT $47 MILLION WAS JUDGED AS WORTHY OF SUPPORT,

COMPARED TO ABOUT $38 MILLION LAST YEAR,

THUS, LESS THAN 50% OF WORTHY PROJECTS COULD BE FUNDED, AND A

WEEK OR SO AGO, A MEETING OF MELBOURNE ACADEMICS CALLED FOR AN

IMMEDIATE INJECTION OF $20 M IL LIO N . LIKEW ISE, C . S . I . R . O STAFF

HAVE PROTESTED OVER THEIR FUNDING - UNJUSTIFIABLY IN MY VIEW.

I UNDERSTAND, AND SYMPATHISE, WITH SOME OF THESE DEMANDS, AND

I WISH THAT MORE MONEY COULD HAVE BEEN MADE AVAILABLE.

THE A . R . G . S . HAS ONE CRITERION ONLY - EXCELLENCE. I CERTAINLY DO NO

QUARREL WITH THAT CRITERION: AS SHADOW M INISTER FOR EDUCATION AND

SCIENCE DURING THE 1 9 7 8 -8 0 PARLIAMENTARY TERM, I STRONGLY PRESSED

THE 'CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE' CONCEPT, AND I S T IL L DO. I WOULD LIK E TO

SEE IT EXTENDED, FOR INSTANCE, FOR SPECIAL ASSISTANCE TO JHE

IN S T IT U T E OF TECHNOLOGY. " · / 1 6 , ’

Page 16.

BUT I QUESTION WHETHER THE SINGLE C R IT E R IA OF EXCELLENCE IS

ENOUGH.

I BELIEVE THAT THE PROBLEM OF FUNDING UNIVERSITY RESEARCH HAS

TO BE DEALT WITH AS PART OF THE OVERALL PROBLEM OF R & D

FUNDING IN T H IS COUNTRY. THAT I S , BY INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS

WE HAVE QUITE A RESPECTABLE RECORD IN FUNDING BASIC RESEARCH,

BUT WE ARE WELL DOWN ON DOING 'DEVELOPMENT' WORK - OR THE SORT

OF WORK WHICH LEADS TO MARKETING OF NEW PRODUCTS OR PROCESSES.

WE ALSO HAVE A RATHER LARGE INPUT OF GOVERNMENT-FUNDED RESEARCH,

WHICH INCLUDES U N IV E R S IT IE S , BY COMPARISON WITH PRIVATE SECTOR

INDUSTRY FUNDING.

TO A LARGE EXTENT . . . 7 1 7 .

Page 17,

TO A LARGE EXTENT, I THINK THAT T H IS REFLECTS THE STRUCTURE OF OUR

INDUSTRY, COMPARATIVELY SMALL U N IT S , OFTEN OVERSEAS-OWNED, AND

IMPORT ORIENTED RATHER THAN EXPORT ORIENTED. T H IS IN TURN, COUPLED

WITH ONLY MODEST GOVERNMENT ENCOURAGEMENT TO DO R & D , HAS LED

TO ATTITUDES IN INDUSTRY WHICH PUTS R & D WELL DOWN THE SCALE OF

P R IO R IT IE S .

ON THE OTHER HAND, WE HAVE SET UP IN S T IT U T IO N S WHICH ARE IN WORLD

CLASS, SUCH AS MUCH OF C . S . I . R . O . AND MANY OF OUR U NIVERSITY

DEPARTMENTS AND, L IK E MUCH ELSE IN T H IS COUNTRY, GOVERNMENT HAS

FUNDED THEM. BUT WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE RURAL IN D USTRIES, A LOT

OF T H IS WORK HAS NOT BEEN CLEARLY ASSOCIATED WITH INDUSTRY. IN

THE JARGON OF SCIENCE POLICY PEOPLE, I T HAS BEEN 'C U R IO S IT Y -L E D '

RATHER THAN 'M A R K E T-P U LL'.

IN A SENSE . . . / I S ,

Page 18,

IN A SENSE, NONE OF T H IS HAS BEEN ANYBODY'S 'F A U L T ' - ALTHOUGH

RATHER MORE CONSULTATION AND PLANNING MAY HAVE LED TO AN EARLIER

AWAKENING OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING,

T H IS GOVERNMENT IS S T R IV IN G - AND IT IS A D IF F IC U L T TASK - TO

RE-ORIENT INDUSTRY TO BE MORE OUTWARD-LOOKING, MORE EXPORT-ORIENTED,

AND BETTER ABLE TO COMPETE IN THE VIGOROUS WORLD OF MANUFACTURING

INDUSTRY WHICH HAS GROWN UP AROUND US, ESPECIALLY IN ASI A.

THUS WE HAVE TO GET AWAY FROM THE ATTITUDES OF THE PAST - AND

THE PRACTICES OF THE PAST, AND ONE OF THE P R IO R IT Y AREAS IS

R & D, IT MUST BECOME MORE TAILORED TO THE MARKET, TO THE

DEVELOPMENT OF PRODUCTS AND PROCESSES, WHICH CAN BE TURNED TO THE

WHEN I SAY T H I S , , , / 1 9 .

NATIONAL ADVANTAGE,

Page 29.

WHEN I SAY T H IS , 1 AM NOT SAYING THAT THE WHOLE UNIVERSITY MUST

BECOME NOTHING MORE THAN A LABORATORY FOR INDUSTRY. THERE IS

NECESSARILY A PLACE FOR FUNDAMENTAL, INTELLECTUALLY DRIVEN RESEARCH.

BUT WE CANNOT JUST ASSUME THAT THE INSTITUTIONS AND FUNDING

ARRANGEMENTS OF THE PAST CAN CONTINUE - THE MATTER MUST BE

DEBATED IN THE LIGHT OF THE NEW CONDITIONS OF THE EIGHTIES AND

NINETIES.

THUS, BY WAY OF A STARTING SUGGESTION, A CRITERIA FOR AT LEAST SOME

FUNDING MIGHT BE "WHO WANTS TO KNOW THIS INFORMATION, AND FOR

WHAT PURPOSE?" LAST WEEK, FOR EXAMPLE, I READ AN "AGE" REPORT

ON A. R. G. S, FUNDING OF A PROJECT ON HOW AN EPOXY-GRAPHITE

COMPOSITE BREAKS DOWN UNDER STRESS. THIS MATERIAL, IT IS SAID, IS

INCREASINGLY REPLACING ALUMINIUM IN AIRCRAFT WINGS. IT DID NOT GET

ANY MONEY. .

WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW . . . / 2 0 .

Page 23,

WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IS WHAT THE INFORMATION WOULD BE USED

FOR. WAS THERE A DEMAND FOR IT FROM A LOCAL MANUFACTURER

OF AIRCRAFT WINGS - WOULD IT LEAD INTO ACTIVITY WHICH WOULD

LEAD TO VALUE ADDED FOR AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY - OR WHICH HAD A

COMMERCIALLY ACCEPTABLE CHANCE OF DOING SO?

THUS, I VIEW RECENT FUNDING DECISIONS AS DECISIONS OF A 'HOLDING'

NATURE. THERE IS RECOGNITION THAT DIRECTIONS OF ACTIVITY MUST

CHANGE. THE RESULT IS THAT THE MOTIVATION TO FUND MORE GENEROUSLY ‘

UNDER THE PRESENT SET-UP IS NOT STRONG.

I BELIEVE THAT IS THE CORRECT UNDERLYING EXPLANATION FOR HOW THE

FIGURES EMERGED FROM WHAT IS OFTEN A H IT AND MISS PROCESS - BUDGET

MAKING. THIS WILL CHANGE, I BELIEVE, WHEN UNIVERSITIES HAVE

DEMONSTRATED THEIR PARTICIPATION IN NATIONAL CHALLENGES. AND IT IS

NOT JUST A QUESTION OF UNIVERSITIES ALONE HAVING TO CHANGE. THERE IS

A TASK FOR ALL OF US. I HOPE THEREFORE . . , / 2 1

I HOPE THEREFORE THAT I HAVE NOT GIVEN THE IMPRESSION OF WANTING

TO MAKE THE UNIVERSITIES THE SCAPE-GOATS FOR OUR PERFORMANCE.

BUT I DO WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THE UNIVERSITIES SHOULD BE

ENLISTED, IN A QUITE PROPER ROLE FOR THEM, IN THE CHANGE OF

DIRECTION NECESSARY TO REVITALISE INDUSTRY.

IN CONCLUSION, I SHOULD EMPHASISE THAT IT IS NOT JUST A MATTER

OF ME HAVING A SECTIONAL INTEREST IN THE REVITALISATION OF

AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY. IT IS MORE A QUESTION OF WHETHER

WE AS A SOCIETY ARE PREPARED TO ASSIST THE OPPORTUNITIES

WHICH ARE AVAILABLE TO US IN THIS REGION OF THE WORLD.

OPPORTUNITIES ALWAYS HAVE A COROLLARY.. ,/2 2

Page 21,

Page 22

OPPORTUNITIES ALWAYS HAVE A COROLLARY THAT THEY INVOLVE R ISK S,

AND UNDOUBTEDLY WE W ILL HAVE TO BE PREPARED TO TAKE SOME RISKS

BUT, AS A S O C IE T Y , WE ARE UNIQUELY PLACED IN TERMS OF

RELATIVELY HIGH STANDARDS OF EDUCATION, ABUNDANT NATURAL

RESOURCES, A REASONABLY SKILLED WORKFORCE, AND I MIGHT ADD,

IMPORTANTLY, A VERY SOUND BASIC RESEARCH CAPACITY.

GEOGRAPHICALLY WE ARE SITUATED IN THE FASTEST GROWING REGION

OF THE WORLD. IN THE PAST WE HAVE GIVEN L IP SERVICE TO

T H IS FACT, AND NOT DIRECTED S U F F IC IE N T C R IT IC A L INTELLIG ENCE AS

TO HOW WE MIGHT GRASP OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE TO US.

IN EDUCATION THEY ARE THERE, NOT ONLY IN TERMS OF REGIONAL

AND LANGUAGE STUDIES IN RESEARCH, BUT ALSO IN PROVISION OF

EDUCATIONAL SERVICES IN THE REGION.

THE IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER , . . / 2 3 ,

Page 23.

THE IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS THAT WE ARE NOT PRIM ARILY

AN OUT-POST OF EUROPEAN C I V I L I S A T I O N IN THE ANTIPODES, BUT A

COUNTRY WHICH PERFORCE MUST IN EVITAB LY BECOME BETTER INTEGRATED

WITH THE ECONOMIES AND ASPIRATIONS OF THE COUNTRIES IN T H IS

REGION.

* * * * * * * * *