Australia's Chief Scientist

National Science and Technology Council Terms of Reference

Purpose

The National Science and Technology Council is responsible for providing advice to the Prime Minister and other Ministers on important science and technology issues facing Australia.

Functions

The Council is to advise the Government on:

  • long term and emerging scientific and technological developments;
  • scientific and technological issues of relevance to Government policy or priorities;
  • Australia’s science system, including issues relating to science engagement, research capability and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce skills;
  • achieving the Government’s objectives as set out in the National Science Statement; and
  • other matters requested by the Prime Minister, other Ministers, or considered important by the Council.

Membership

The Council’s membership is:

  • the Prime Minister (Chair);
  • the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology (Deputy Chair);
  • Australia’s Chief Scientist (Executive Officer);
  • the Chief Executive of the CSIRO; and
  • up to six scientific expert members.

Expert members will normally be appointed for three year terms, and will not be appointed for more than two terms.

Ministers and experts from a wide range of other portfolios will attend meetings as relevant to the agenda.

Meetings

The Council will meet up to four times per year.

In the absence of the Chair, the Deputy Chair will chair meetings. Up to two meetings per year may be chaired by the Chief Scientist, if the Chair and Deputy Chair are unable to attend. The quorum for a meeting will be the Executive Officer and two thirds of the appointed expert members.

The chair of each meeting will issue invitations to other Ministers and experts based on the subject matter under consideration. Ministers receiving such an invitation may delegate their departmental Secretary to attend on their behalf.

Agenda and Work Program

The Agenda for each meeting will be approved by the relevant chair of the meeting. The Agenda will be developed by the Chief Scientist in consultation with relevant Ministers and members.

The Chief Scientist will report to the Cabinet at least once per year, providing a review of the activities of the Council and seeking endorsement of the Council’s work program for the next year.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science will lead an annual meeting of relevant departments and agencies to coordinate input to the development of the work program.

Administrative Arrangements

The Office of the Chief Scientist will provide secretariat support for the Council.

Actions arising from meetings will be progressed by relevant Ministers, the Chief Scientist or expert members, as agreed by the Council. In undertaking its work, the Council may establish short-term expert working groups to assist with specific tasks, in consultation with the relevant Ministers.