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Australian Review of Science Capability released

STATEMENT BY AUSTRALIA'S CHIEF SCIENTIST, DR ROBIN J BATTERHAM:

I am delighted to publicly release today my final report The Chance to Change on ways to ensure Australian science, engineering and technology continue to help Australia grow.

In recognition of the importance of the science, engineering and technology (SET) base to Australia's future, in August 1999, the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator the Hon Nick Minchin, asked me to assess its capabilities to ensure it can meet the needs of Australians in the 21st century.

The consultation process for the Australian Science Capability Review has been extensive. I invited the community to make initial submissions in September 1999, released a discussion document in February 2000 in time for the National Innovation Summit and The Chance to Change-a discussion paper in August 2000.

In April this year, I visited a number of nations which are striking a new direction in the way they are anticipating change. During August and September I held public consultations in all capital cities around Australia, organised by State and Territory governments. The response I received on The Chance to Change-a discussion paper was overwhelmingly positive. These consultations were very useful in helping to refine the report. The Chance to Change also generated hundreds of submissions and letters of support, including an unprecedented letter of support from industry leaders and Academe, published in all national newspapers.

The insights I gained from my international consultations, submissions to the Review, consultations and considerable research have generated an integrated set of proposals for government consideration.

In the Final Report, I propose a new direction for SET in Australia. The direction will ensure that Australians benefit economically, environmentally and socially from the enormous resource of the SET base. It will also ensure that the community is better able to track the progress of their investment.

My report recommends that significant new resources should go into Australia's SET base with the objective of driving much greater activity in the knowledge based economy. The emphasis of such new expenditure should be on supporting excellence under conditions of strict accountability to the community.

I believe that the case presented is too powerful to ignore. If we as a nation want to continue to contribute to the world's ever increasing stock of knowledge and continue to have a strong clear voice in international decision making we must act now to reserve our seat. A strong and healthy SET base is crucial for economic performance and a sustainable national innovation system in the future.

I am particularly grateful for the assistance provided by my distinguished Group of Strategic Advisers.

With community support, Australian science, engineering and technology will guarantee our future.

The Chance to Change - Final Report and further information about the Review can be found at:

www.isr.gov.au.

To make further enquiries click on www.australia.org.nz.

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