Australia's Chief Scientist

Australia in transition: to what?

Download a copy of the sixth bulletin here (22kb).

27 August 2013

We are told that we have an economy in transition but not what we are in transition to.  We know about the means, budgets, surpluses and other important policy stances, but not about the end – what will Australia be like after, say, 20 years of transition?

When all the pieces of the puzzle are put together, what sort of country will we have?  What sort of country do we want to have?

To get to be where we want to be we need to be strategic about how we manage our transition.  We need creativity, flexibility and innovation.

Creating the jobs and industries of tomorrow, and retaining or improving our standard of living will require a long-term vision.

We must ensure Australians have the right education and skills to maximise their capacity to participate and thrive in the workforce of the time.

We need to better integrate our STEM enterprise – all levels of education and research – with our need for innovation.  We need to choose what we want to do, since we cannot do everything. And we need to aim to be world leading at what we choose.  When we are, we will have much to offer the rest of the world while we draw benefit from their efforts.

STEM researchers are under-represented in the Australian business sector. That is not the case in other countries with developed, free market economies. The integration of knowledge creation and innovation are part of their strategic plans for STEM.

Separate papers by the Chief Scientist and the Business Council of Australia have arrived at the same conclusion. Australia must develop a STEM Strategy and implement it now.  Countries we like to be like, or with which we are likely to relate, are not leaving their future to chance and neither should we.  They do not want to be left behind – nor should we.

To read a joint opinion piece by myself and Business Council of Australia chief executive, Jennifer Westacott, published in today’s Australian Financial Review, click here.