No Science Minister In New Abbott Government [Updated]

We've just learned who will sit in the new Abbott Ministry, but one of the most notable exceptions is the position of Science Minister: no such position will exist in the Cabinet from the looks of things. The full list can be found here (PDF), but it looks like we're about to live under a science-free nation.

We're learning as it develops that the Science Portfolio will fall under the remit of the Industry Minister, namely, Ian Macfarlane.

Australia won't get a Science or Youth minister, but we will get a Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of the ANZAC and a Minister for Sport. Update: we don't want to sound like we don't care about ANZACs. We love our Diggers and praise their efforts at keeping our nation safe in tumultuous times.

Sorry, Jesse.

Should Australia have a bespoke Science Minister?

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    Who wants to bet that the next Australian of The Year will be a sports star rather than a scientist?

      Or someone dedicated to pushing iron age fairy tales and superstitions.

      Yeah cause Ita Buttrose, Jeffery Rush and Simon McKeon were Scientists

    Why would Abbott listen to the reason of Science? That goes against his religion.

      Didn't you hear? All the big corporations these days are putting there money into religious studies instead of R&D. This is how Australia will compete with the rest of the world.

      Typical left-wing comment. You people who knock someone because of their religion are just as guilty of ignorance as the people who follow them

      Last edited 16/09/13 8:15 pm

        Those who attempt to politically generalise people based on their comments are clearly not ignorant. Furthermore, you must be intelligent if you still believe in a dialectic political spectrum. Who are you Reagan?

        Somewhat off topic, but while I don't entirely disagree...

        Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes

        Like.. What? It seems to me that religious people in recent generations mainly enjoy 'being religious' as it adds some kind of mystical depth to their personality, while being sick of being regarded as slaves to the bible (supposedly gods word). I mean I doubt anyone (except strictly religious people perhaps) would claim that religion realistically in this era makes anyone a 'better person' than anyone else. There are good people and bad people on both sides, regardless of what they believe..

        To me, either the bible is the word of god (infallible) , or it's the word of men. In this case, clearly it's the latter.. And explanations like this to me seem the equivalent of a 13 year old saying 'I know better until you prove me wrong - and at that time, I will say that's what I meant all along anyway'.

          It depends, on your attitude to philosophy ...

          "I mean I doubt anyone (except strictly religious people perhaps) would claim that religion realistically in this era makes anyone a 'better person' than anyone else. "

          Religious people in general feel that they are more morally complete than those who do not follow religion and will generally readily accept pseudo science theories over actual scientific theories. But hey each to their own ... unless they are running the country.

        Tony Abbott isn't being mocked here simply because of his religion. He is being mocked because his Christianity drives his policy making decisions. It is this that I find abhorrent.

        Damn right I knock someone because of their blinded religious views. He refuses to allow his own gay sister to marry because his religion says it's unnatural. Science has shown many natural examples of same sex acts, proving it's natural, but let's ignore that reasoning and call everyone left wing and ignorant.

        Whilst we're at it we might as well agree that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. Or can we pick and choose what we want to pull from religious texts and follow blindly?

      I would think that he has the right to religion. Obviously this is not the case for some...

        Nobody is commenting regarding Mr Abbott's right to religion - the point being made is the fact that his religion is governing his actions as PM, and those decisions have an impact upon all Australians, be they Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Atheist, or otherwise.

      Why would Tony have a science minister if he's going to privatise the CSIRO anyway, along with the ABC, SBS, and the AIS.

        I don't think he's that extreme. But if he does touch ABC or SBS, I'm off to New Zealand

    The LNP don't need no damn stinking science! They can refer to the only science book they need - the Bible. It's full of facts about where we come from and where we are going. Another step backwards for Australia, especially if they change their minds and get Dennis (it ain't that bad climate change) Jensen as Science Minister.

    Should Australia have a Science Minister?
    Absolutely. After basic literacy and numeracy, scientific literacy is the biggest key for overcoming ignorance, and is unfortunately not given nearly enough recognition.

      Doesn't your comment imply that it should fall under education then (along with literacy and numeracy), rather than be its own ministry?

      exactly and if you were more educated in the sciences you'd realize that top physicists do not and will not categorically deny the existence of a higher being since the evidence actually does point to the existence of a higher being. Some say it's people from the future, some say it's an alien(s), some say it's God, some say it's the multiverse. But none of them believes that it's all just one happy accident like high school science teachers teach you.

        What evidence is this exactly? I've not seen it.

          Riiiight... So I think you're missing the bit where you actually provide *evidence* for the existence of a higher being, because the last I checked there has been none, ever.

        Episode 19 Catalyst - The scientists talk of it being tempting to suggest design of some sort but they also say that suggestion is just silly and snigger at the suggestion that some will want this to be true.
        They were talking on the measure of Dark Energy with 122 decimal places of 0 followed by a 1 ... bam it must be god lol!

        Just because we can't prove something doesn't exist doesn't mean we should believe in it.

        Like Unicorns for example.

        Some scientist also believe, and have found traits that our universe is a type of simulation. True story.

        That's just completely wrong. There is no evidence that points to what you are saying.

        Yeah, I call bullshit.

        Most of the scientists I've heard express an opinion have been basically agnostic (i.e. no opinion) while being inclined to think there *isn't* a higher being (but don't state it as a fact due to lack of evidence) as Occam's Razor favours the simpler hypothesis.

        Some "top physicists" talk about the Universe itself in a spiritual/religious way, but generally not in terms of a "higher being". Einstein explicitly described himself as agnostic. Hawking has said that the explanation given by science "doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary."

        Certainly there are some physicists who believe in the existence of a higher being, but to suggest that all feel that way is at best misleading.

          I think you are confused. I'm pretty certain mr.hawking doesn't believe in god; all he is saying there currently is no proof to say god doesn't exist.. But to say god created the world; well, I'm pretty sure he thinks this is rubbish.. to quote Stephen Hawking..

          "“When people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them that the question itself makes no sense. Time didn’t exist before the big bang, so there is no time for god to make the universe in. It’s like asking directions to the edge of the earth; The Earth is a sphere; it doesn’t have an edge; so looking for it is a futile exercise. We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is; there is no god. No one created our universe,and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization; There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that I am extremely grateful.” "

        would you like to name a few of these "top scientists"?
        I will point at you and laugh if you say Einstein

          He might do the same:

          I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.

            nice quote. nothing to do with what I said though.

    " but it looks like we’re about to live under a science-free nation. "
    Only to be expected when the country votes in an intelligence-free PM

      Were the other choices really much better? PM wise?

        you could have voted for a smaller party...

          Like the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party?

            Pirate Party!! ARRRRRR

              Actually if you read the pirate parties plan for boat people it is really good, humane and practical. Basically they would process the asylum seekers like the humans they are and then settle them to work on the farms no one else wants to work on, they get paid and pay taxes.

                As if the name hadnt already sold me on them now I definitely like them :-)

                Where are these farms that nobody else wants to work on?

                Boat people was really a non issue, it's been built up into something huge when really it's not that important.

                  Following taken directly from the pirate party policy website " Asylum seeking is lawful, and detention should not last longer than the minimum time-frame necessary to assess claims and conduct health and security checks. Approved asylum seekers can be brought into the community, provided with support and training, and settled in areas where jobs remain persistently vacant (the National Farmers Federation estimates around 96,000 jobs are unfilled in regional areas)."
                  In fact their policies are quite a good read.

        You may not have liked Labor's internal dramas but at least we'd have FTTP, ETS, Disability scheme funded properly, Marine Parks remaining intact etc.

        Damn - we are really f*&cked now.

      He's a devout religious man, of course he doesn't like black magic that is known as science.

      OMG Science ceases to exist because we have no specific science minister. What a load.

    Well, we apparently need one for Sport (even if it is a shared portfolio)... I would have thought Science was more "productive" and important to our future and economic output.
    Doesn't strike much confidence in me!

      with a massive aging population you'd think we'd need a minister dedicated to health alone.

      You can thank Labor for that.

        You can blame Labor for the ageing population? You can hardly blame them for the non-existence of a health minister in a Liberal cabinet...

          Have a look again at who i was replying to.

            Why do people respond like this? Why not say, "oh, I was replying to ______, not pixelwhip." (I haven't actually checked who you were replying to, I'll admit.)

              Because maybe next time you should check who someone was replying to before you try to jump on them?

                Is he heavy? I hope your back holds out.

        Labor had a Science Minister and a Minister for Mental Health and Ageing... I guess we can blame them for thinking that they were a good idea.
        Who cares what Labor had in their Ministry? They had a decent structure even if they performed poorly.
        This Ministry is missing key Portfolios and keeping "fluffy' ones!

          Labor brought in the Minister for Sport. That's all I was pointing out.

          The Ministry's portfolios haven't actually changed.

      I'm surprised they even have a Sports minister, since he wants to privatise the AIS.

      Since when has a Minister for Sport been something only Abbott would appoint?

        You miss the point entirely!!!
        Dropping Sport is a no brainer, should have been first on the list to go.
        Its a "nice to have". That other governments, both Labor and Liberal have had it in the past is fine, because (amongst other important porfolios) they also had a Minister for Science and Technology.

    Ouch, this is so painful to witness...

    Are we just getting upset over names here? We had the Minister for Industry, Innovation, Science and Research and now we will have a Minister for Industry who still covers the science portfolio.

      We're getting upset because Science is rolled into another ministry Industry where one can speculate (esp in the current global climate) it'll only get a small portion of coverage (and representation).

      We're also upset (or I am, anyway), that rolling science into industry and innovation suggests that science in this country will focus primarily on application driven product development as opposed to balanced with fundamental research which has shown time and time again to provide knowledge and skills for a long term technological advantage.

      Science which has provided a significant chunk of the wealth of this nation deserves a ministry (in any modern nation, anyways)

      Personally as a scientist, I sometimes begin to understand the role of the Joker.

        Science was already being rolled into Industry. You have absolutely no reason to be upset.

      of course we are. Bigots (on all sides) are always doing that, finding small things and turning them into mountains.

      The fact is, there's no real need for a specific "ministry of science" because in many ways that falls partly under Education and partly under Industry. Every single government will try to (rightly) remove a ministry that they feel is just a waste of space, while at the same time (stupidly) adding one of their own ministry that is really just another waste of space.

        And where does basic research fit? It's not education, and industry rarely touches it until it's already proved.

        The single biggest enabler of modern civilisation, and the best we can do for it is hope that Almighty Business can spare a few dollars from their bottom line.

      A Ministry for Industry may support technology, but that isn't science.

        Except the portfolio still exists.

          When nearly a third of the portfolios under the Ministry have "Science" in their name, and over half have a scientific role, it should be concerning.

          Doubly so given this point from yesterday's Guardian:

          Back in 2006, Macfarlane was named ... as being amongst a “dirty dozen” of Australians ... who had worked harder than any others to “prevent any effective action to reduce Australia’s burgeoning greenhouse gas emissions”. In an interview with the ABC in 2007, Macfarlane was pressed on his views about human-caused climate change and was unconvincing in his response. ... The fossil fuel industry will be hoping that Macfarlane’s views haven’t changed.

          When you have a Minister with a (long) track record of preferring the view of the fossil fuel industry over a pretty substantial - and still growing - body of science and whose new title drops the word "science" - which has been a ministerial title for over 80 years - but keeps the word "industry", there's definitely a reason to be concerned. If this wasn't indicative of a broader agenda, and if the importance of the portfolios within the ministry otherwise is expected to remain the same, why remove the word at all?

          Last edited 17/09/13 3:02 pm

      No apparently ALL Labour voters need sticky notes stuck to things so they can recognise what they are for.... ooo look computer duh!

    No science minister? How fitting! This will be the least innovative government in Australian history. They will push us back in the past whether you like it or not.

      ..and I can only see to the horizon so the earth must be flat. Your comment is a syllogistic fallacy. No science minister = least innovative government in australian history = being pushed back into the past. Pfft. No to take your argument it would appear that the Liberals are going to responsible for developing time travel into the past... and now that sounds damn innovative to me.

    I'm surprised they have a Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

      It's easier to get accused of stupidity than racism.

      Why? clearly indigenous issues are important and there is a solid amount of policy to be developed.

    Pretty obvious the Abbott Government will be known for approving many mines, forestry, supertrawler(s), removing marine parks, removing Carbon Tax, mutilating working conditions, praising tricksy financial products and probably rooting our superannuation up.

    Really looking forward to the next election - in the meantime I will play many many games (Star Citizen, Titanfall, Planetary annihilation to name a few)

    Australian civil, rational society is an unrealised dream so lets just party as we BUUUURRRNNN!

      i will see you on star citizen and titan fall.
      wait out the storm and hopefully get a progressive forward looking government. dont care who leads us they just need to lead us in the right direction and i dont agree with the direction tony is taking us.

    I think in some ways it may be better to separate science in Education, with science in Industry (and science in other areas, eg Communication & Defence). If Science was its own ministry, would it be separated from areas that may benefit or be beneficial. Education should push to increasing the understanding of Science and it can in turn apply discoveries through technology in Industry, Communications and Defence. When a project or initiative needs Federal funding (or other support) it can either increase understanding Education Ministry (which has the universities & other institutions to support it) or if it is for a specific application then the area benefiting from that application, eg Defence (which will integrate the science with other operating technologies).

    Everyone knows Australia's future doesn't lie with science, technology and innovation.

    Thankfully Abbott is wise enough to stand up against progress.

    Thank you Luke, for creating a sensational article and perpetuating misunderstandings. You could have a bright future at ACA or Today Tonight.

    "We love our Diggers and praise their efforts at keeping our nation safe in tumultuous times."

    = think you'll find 'our' diggers these days are busy prosecuting USA wars of adventure and plunder on the other side of the world, which actually make our nation less safe.

    The new dedicated ministry comes with a $100M budget to glorify war on the centenary anniversary - you know, now that there's no WWI diggers left to give uncomfortable reminders that state sanctioned mass murder is rong.

      Please go sprout your BS somewhere else. ANZAC day isn't about glorifying war, its about remembering the fallen and honoring those who sacrificed their lives so that YOU can live free. I served for 8 years as an infantry soldier and deployed to Afghanistan multiple times as well as Iraq, please don't lecture us on what you believe is going on over there, because you clearly have no idea.

      Last edited 17/09/13 3:04 pm

      I'm upvoting both of you, because you both have valid points in the midst of your messages.

    Liberals seem content on sending the Australian economy down the toilet as they continue to fund commodity industries. Our economy simply can not compete against the likes of China and other asian countries. The only way to battle the down pressure of commoditisation is to innovate.

      Hmm interesting comment considering historically LIberal governments have always have ALWAYS performed better than Labour governments economically.


    Last edited 18/06/15 10:42 am

      sure; but we just won't see it; after all science, like C02 is 'invisible stuff'

        Because Labour did SUCH A GOOD JOB supporting and exposing new science and innovation. Yet they had a minister to do just THAT? Still nothing?

    Next announcement will be teaching Creationism instead of Evolution in schools.
    Oh Abbott the parallels between you and George W. Bush Jnr are scary and embarrassing.

    For Scien-
    Oh. Right.
    For Reli-

      Go on - try it again - let me lead "For Religgg.../heave"
      you're right - its difficult...

    Let's have a look at science in the Rudd Cabinet shall we?

    Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
    Minister for Higher Education"

    So science already WAS in with industry.

    Also, climate change wasn't under the science portfolio, for that you had
    Minister for Climate Change
    Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Water."

    Turnbull: Science we already have is enough for all Aussie households... If you want additional science pay for your own R&D...
    Public: We need science to keep future safe and progress ahead
    Turnbull: Didn't election just happen.. Democracy?

    Poor Luke, I bet you had a big cry on election night. As it happens if you bothered to get out of your anti-abbott sandpit you could do a bit of research on science spending under the last several governments. The -sad for you- picture is that coalition pumps more money into IT and science than the ALP.

    The knock was on Abbott making decisions like this which could potentially impact the competiveness of Australian companies. The assumption/joke here is that it was made ecause of a conflict between science and religion. You are correct though, whether the decision was made because Abbott Religious beliefs or incompetence doesn't really matter. He has proven how short sighted he is.

    There we go, "Ministry of Science" is a waste of space, spoken by the Number 1 LNP fanboy himself...

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