Measures to support the future science- and technology-skilled workforce and a commitment to action on climate change were welcome highlights of the Opposition’s Budget Reply speech, but Science & Technology Australia lamented the lack of detail on investment in the nation’s knowledge economy.
“Labor’s commitment to support access to universities by removing caps on undergraduate places would enable universities to train more people in science – with their requirement for specialist equipment and technical staff, these degrees tend to be more costly to deliver,” said STA President Professor Emma Johnston AO.
“We know that jobs requiring STEM skills are forecast to be the fastest growing sector of the economy for the next decade and beyond.
“STA also welcomes the Opposition’s plan to invest more in school education and boost vocational education and training (VET), which plays an important role in building the IT- and engineering-ready future workforce.”
STA looks forward to hearing how Labor plans to realise its promise of “real action on climate change”.
“Embracing renewables is an important start but it’s not possible to take real action on climate change without investment in the solution-making sector that is our best and strongest hope when it comes to climate change: science,” Professor Johnston said.
“It was disappointing that the Budget Reply speech lacked reference to a visionary investment in creating new knowledge and translating it to the benefit of Australia’s health, wealth, and environmental wellbeing.”
She said there was also an opportunity for the Opposition to show their commitment to diversity and inclusion in STEM, by emphasising their support for women, Indigenous scientists, and other under-represented groups.
“With a commitment from Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, to revive the Education Investment Fund, we hope to see a bold and detailed approach to science and technology policy once the election is called.”