Borwein on the Australian scientific research budget

One of the present bloggers (Jonathan M. Borwein) has published an article in The Conversation on the proposed cuts to scientific research in the latest Australian federal budget. While some medical research has been spared, other sectors, notably basic science, are being cut severely.

The cuts include AUS$74 million cuts to the Australian Research Council (ARC), AUS$80 million cuts to the Cooperative Research Center (CRC) program, AUS$111 million cuts to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and AUS$120 million cuts to the Defence Science and Technology Organization (DSTO).

Borwein observes that even if one grants that medical research is more important than, say, marine science or astrophysics, it is ironic that the current Australian government’s disavowal of global warming, and its attacks on research related to global warming, are certain to significantly increase medical bills in the future, as diseases migrate, crop yields fall, and heat-related conditions increase.

As Borwein quips,

If 80% of doctors recommend a course of treatment for Joe Hockey, he would follow their advice. When 97% of climate scientists do likewise for the environment, Tony Abbott knows better.

Borwein notes that “Throughout my career, the research universities I worked at survived, and in most cases flourished — largely because of their ‘human capital’.” Quoting Thomas Pikkety’s new book Capital in the 21st Century,

Above all, knowledge diffusion depends on a country’s ability to mobilise financing as well as institutions that encourage large-scale investment in education and training of the population while guaranteeing a stable legal framework that various economic actors can reliably count on.

Borwein’s complete article is available Here.

Comments are closed.