National Research Priorites Consultation
simon.haberle at arts.monash.edu.au
Fri Jun 7 09:32:52 EST 2002
A series of meetings is being held round Australia over the next two
weeks to help set priority areas for research funding.
Everyone's invited, and it's important to get a cross-section of the
science community there.
Also I've attached below a letter from Peter Stoker, who attended one of
the first meetings held in Brisbane, and has made some interesting
comments on the outcome re earth sciences.
If you are intending to attend a consultative session please
RSVP at least two working days prior to the event by sending
an email to priorities at dest.gov.au. Please state your name,
organisation (if relevant) and the location of the session you
wish to attend.
Further information is at the following sites:
Notes on consultation meeting National Research Priorities Brisbane 6
Meeting attended by approximately 80 to 100 people, including Vic Wall,
John Anderson, Mark Berry, George Porovat, Mike Gladwin, Greg Webb and
Peter Stoker with a geoscience or related background, sorry if I missed
Robin Batterham and the panel introduced the process of consultation and
discussed in broad terms the prioritization objectives. There was
opportunity to comment on the process, which essentially aims at
thematic priorities approximately 10 of which will be chosen to go to
cabinet that will select 3 to 5 of these for funding on a Whole of
Government co-operative process. There was also the opportunity to
present broad thematic areas for consideration and "road testing" by the
group. The issue suggested by Evan Leitch "Earth System Science for a
Sustainable Australia" was proposed and spoken to by Vic Wall, Peter
Stoker and John Anderson. John developed the theme by directing the
panel's attention to the sub themes implicit in this broad thematic
priority and was specifically asked to commit his statement to writing
for the panel to consider further.
The "road testing consisted of evaluating whether the theme required a
whole of Government co-operative approach to fund the projects which
would be conducted under the theme. That is a make or break test. It
must need more than simply ARC funding or CRC funding, although it was
intimated if applications to those bodies meet the eventual high level
thematic priorities them they may also have a greater chance of success.
There was general agreement that the prioritization concept was valid,
there was concern about the generality, abstractness, remoteness from
the actual research process of these "high level" themes which were
being prioritised but that was seen as preferable to the ARC winner
I felt there was vagueness about the process, all the final submissions
on 9 August will go to a further panel or committee (yet to be
appointed) to consider and prioritize to come up with the 10 items to go
to cabinet. There was much back and forward about whether there would be
additional funding or simply just reallocation of existing funding, the
answer seemed to depend on how catchy the priority areas were, but don't
hold your breath!
The criteria for the priorities are set out in the issues paper; it
would be a good idea to read this before going to the meeting.
The theme that Evan raised seemed to be acceptable, except that Chris
Fell described it as the geologists and miners coming in for their bit.
Also in the evaluation of whether it was sufficiently catchy and high
level enough to warrant high level Whole of Government support Robin
Batterham labelled the "Earth System Science" a 6 on the scale
"Northumbrian Basket Weaving =1 to Being better Australians =10" while
the "Sustainable Australia" scored a 9, my feeling was the "earth
science" needs to be an obvious sustaining "hook" for the theme but not
so obviously stated, but isn't that a dilemma.
One speaker pursued the theme of science over feel good themes which may
in fact only be ideologies dressed up as pseudo science, for me a voice
of sanity in a sea of platitudes!
It seems to me that a well thought out brief with a theme and adequate
reference to second level themes and consequent programs is the way to
ensure that Earth Science gets a place in the final 10 and John
Anderson's paper may provide an excellent starting point. It may also be
that incorporation of the current concept with a "Coastal
sustainability" theme, and "Sustainability through Biotechnology in the
Bush" might at least get us to the starting block.
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