PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5000


Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 26/03/1979

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 5000

It is a great pleasure to be with you today, the occasion of
the Silver Jubilee of the Australian Academy of Science.
The Jubilee comes at a critical time. The world is in the
midst of a scientific revolution, a revolution which is
changing the organisation of society as profoundly as the
industrial revolution changed the world which preceded it.
The pessimists see science and technology as juggernauts out
of control. The optimists look forward to an age of well-being
unprecedented in human history. Proper understanding by the
community of science and technology is essential if we are to
make the most of this revolution.
Organised bodies of scientists, like the Australian Academy of
Science, therefore have special responsibilities not only for
the promotion of excellence in science, but for promotion of
scientific understanding in the community at large.
The. Academy, which was founded in 1954 with the support of the Commonwealth
Government, under Sir Robert Menzies, has accepted a number of responsibilities
on behalf,* of scientists and science in Australia. The Academy's charter,
confered by Queen Elizabeth, laid down the major formal responsibilities for
the Academy, which were " to promote, declare and disseminate
scientific knowledge, to establish and maintain standards of
scientific endeavour and achievement..".
These Jubilee celebrations are a reaffirmation of its dedication
to these responsibilities, and a time to look back on the
Academy's 25 years of achievements. They are also a time to
pause and look ahead towards the next 25 years and the role of
such an Academy in those promising but difficult times.
The Academy has met its obligations well. It has acted as the
able representative of Australian science in international
affairs and has promoted bilateral exchanges, notably with
the People's Republic of China. It has brought many overseas
scientists to Australia, particularly by its organisation of
international conferences. It has participated in events like
the International Geophysical Year, and supported the proposal
for a large optical telescope in Australia, which led eventually
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to the Anglo-Australian agreement to jointly build and operate
a 3.9 metre telescope. It has interpreted the promotion of
scientific knowledge, not only in relation to scientific
excellence in the narrow technical sense but in the wider
community sense. It has conducted, and published, inquiries
concerned with topics as diverse as hydrology, Antarctic
research, solar energy, fats in the diet, national parks,
climatic change, and the quality of the environment.
The Academy has conducted national workshops, and has standing
committees in areas both of scientific and public interest. It
has made submissions to Government inquiries and provided
technical advice. The discussions which ultimately led to
the Australian Science and Technology Council were initiated
by the Academy in 1967 with a report entitled " Science Policy
Machinery in Australia", and ASTEC is now headed by a former
President of the Academy, Professor Geoffrey Badger.
In this age of great opportunity and of challenge for the,
world and for Australia we must be in the forefront of acquiring
scientific knowledge and converting this knowledge to practical
effect. our scientists have made outstanding contributions to their
discipline. The quality of Australian science stands high on
any measure, whether it be the prizes and honours conferred,
the scientific outputs, the reputations and prestige of our
research institutes and research schools. But we need to do more
to match this record with success in the application of
our scientific knowledge. Sometimes our scientists, our
technologists, our businessmen, do not communicate and build
on each other's talents as much as we would have hoped.
The recent ASTEC Report " Science and Technology in Australia, 1977-78"
for instance, suggests that we could have done more to capitalise
on the output of Australian research and use the results as
the basis for technological innovations in our industries.
The Government would like to see Australia's scientists improve
their links with the rest of the Australian community. Close
contact should be established between Government departments,
research institutions, industry and the academic world.
My Government's strategy has been designed to achieve this, and
we have instituted a permanent Australian Science and Technology
Council, a comprehensive review of the CSIRO, and a number of
other measures such as our programmes to determine the most
effective means of obtaining the benefits of new technology.
The Academy has, for its part, been promoting the applications of
science in industry through its standing committee, the" Science
and Industry Forum". The Forum is valuable, not only for its
inquiries and published reports, but because it brings together
scientists, technologists and managers to exchange points of view.
Understanding the changes which science may bring about requires
education at various levels and the Academy has given attention
to this important aspect of science.

The activities associated with the Jubilee provide a picture
of some of the more general ways which the community can gain
an understanding of scientific developments. They include
sponsorship of a school science exhibition, and an essay
competition on " science and society", public lectures on topics
like technology and employment, and conservation, a young people's
symposium, the showing of scientific films, and the admirable
exhibition in this building. They are to be followed by a series
of scientific symposia intended to make use of the Academy's
broad representation over the whole of science. Shortly,
with the close co-operation of the sister academies of technology
and of the social sciences a two-day workshop " Science and
Technology for Development" will be held.
The Academy, over the last 25 years, has most creditably acquitted
its responsibilities and has made important contributions to
national goals and aspirations. What of the next 25 years?
The distinguished scientists who are members of the Academy
must continue with their special role in the development of
Australia. They have a role in stimulating scientific
discoveries and a role in continuing to bring science to the
Australian people.
The Academy is also well placed to make a major contribution in
advising the Government, for example, by contributing to the
Committee of Inquiry into Technological Change in Australia, which
is being chaired by Professor Rupert Myers. Although partly
supported by a Government grant the Academy is an independent body.
In a democracy such as ours, there is always a need for
independent identification and investigation of problems.
Independence ensures that the Academy will put forward considered,
constructive advice and the Government looks forward to
the future contributions by the Academy.
I hope that the Academy will continue to interpret its Charter
very broadly, to the advantage both of science in Australia
and the whole Australian community. I congratulate the
Academy on its past record and wish it well for the
next 25 years. 000---

Transcript 5000