National Science and Technology Council: Eleventh meeting
The eleventh meeting of the National Science and Technology Council was held via videoconference on 13 December 2021. The meeting was chaired by the Council’s Executive Officer, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM.
The Hon Melissa Price MP, Minister for Science and Technology, opened the meeting and welcomed Council members and guests. Dr Foley welcomed Minister Price to her first Council meeting.
Dr Foley invited members to endorse the Council’s forward work plan. Dr Foley informed Council members that she had written to Australian Government Ministers seeking their input in the development of the forward work plan, and presented it to the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP prior to the Council meeting. The forward work plan will address science and technology relevant issues as they relate to key policy areas including: skills needs and career pathways for the future work force, longer-term technologies for critical minerals production, and the role of digital technologies in new ways of working.
Dr Foley invited members to provide insights from their relevant fields of expertise. Members raised topics of interest including future workforce pressures, and how the tertiary sector is responding to capability needs of the AUKUS agreement.
The Council was briefed on the Government’s supply chain resilience agenda by representatives of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. The presentation included information on the Office of Supply Chain Resilience, the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, and highlighted potential opportunities for international collaboration. Council members discussed the Government’s approach to identifying supply chain opportunities and provided insights.
Professor Williamson presented to the Council and representatives of DISER on the limitations of current understanding of machine learning in artificial intelligence. Council members discussed implications for future Government action from technological, ethical and regulatory perspectives.
Dr Foley thanked Professor Howlett and Professor Williamson for their service on the Council, as their terms will conclude in December 2021.
The next Council meeting will be held in 2022.