New PMSEIC structure

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, and Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, today announced a number of reforms to the Council to ensure it remains relevant and able to facilitate the best connection between scientific advice and policy.

The changes follow an examination of the Council’s operations seeking to ensure that it is nimble, relevant and able to facilitate the best connection between scientific advice and policy.

Key features of the new PMSEIC include a smaller membership and more frequent meetings (three times per year), with the capacity to deal with both short term as well as over-the-horizon topics requiring independent scientific advice to Government.  A key objective is to ensure that the PMSEIC agenda is relevant to the needs of Government, by providing scientific advice on issues which require the development of a policy response, either in the short term, or over longer term horizons. 

Commenting on the changes, the Minister advised that the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb AC, will continue to play a key role as the Executive Officer to PMSEIC.

“As in the past, PMSEIC will continue to offer advice and provide expert scientific opinion on policy challenges across the whole of government, including health, the environment, education, IT communications, agriculture and international relations,” Senator Evans said.

Professor Chubb said in the past, PMSEIC’s focus was primarily on issues facing Australia’s long term future, looking five to 30 years ahead, rather than on issues immediately affecting the country.

“The role of foresighting is still an important part of PMSEIC’s work, but we cannot ignore the fact that the Government also needs scientific advice on immediate issues like nanotechnology, immunisations, industrial waste and stem cell therapies,” Professor Chubb said.

Under the new model, long-term issues requiring a scientific response will be referred to the Australian Council of Learned Academies, representing the four Learned Academies, to undertake in depth, interdisciplinary research and report to the government through the Chief Scientist.     

PMSEIC’s revised membership will include:

                         Dr Megan Clark;
                         Dr Cathy Foley;
                         Dr Ben Greene;
                         Professor Robert Saint;
                         Professor Fiona Stanley; and
                         Professor Graeme Turner.

PMSEIC will convene in early 2012. 

Read the media release here.