Australia's Chief Scientist

New knowledge, new ideas and creativity

Download a copy of the seventh bulletin here (43kb).

27 August 2013

Australia’s research sector will have a critical role to play in our future.

To meet the challenges that we face, and to turn challenge into opportunity, we must generate a constant flow of new ideas.

We cannot simplistically mimic, otherwise reproduce or just adopt ideas developed elsewhere. We need to look after ourselves while we behave as first rate global citizens. We must contribute our ideas, our knowledge and our skills to the global search for solutions to the big problems.

To be effective, we can’t be fragmentary. We must think beyond short-term planning horizons. As 21 leaders of US industry put it in an open letter to President Clinton in 1996:

  • “History has shown that it is federally sponsored research that provides the truly ‘patient’ capital needed to carry out basic research and create an environment for the inspired risk-taking that is essential to technological discovery.”

No one can predict the future outcomes of understanding-led research, or anticipate the unknown unknowns. Research is about curiosity and ideas, imagination and creativity. It is about learning, and understanding our natural and constructed worlds. It helps us comprehend our communities, our cultures and relationships within society.

And if we want to be an innovative community, how could we be one without ideas?

Government belongs here. Coordinated, long-term public support of research will generate the new ideas that will become the game changers of the future. Research fuels innovation. It is an investment in our future.

And if we are to earn the future we want, we must continue to support those who push the boundaries, who extend our understanding and who create in this country that critical environment for the inspired risk-taking that is essential to technological discovery.