Trust the science, Australians tell policymakers

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Australians overwhelmingly trust scientists and want science to drive policy-making, according to a new report commissioned by the peak industry body, Science and Technology Australia.

The 3M State of Science Index measures public attitudes to science in 17 countries, including polling 1,000 Australians’ trust levels.

The report was launched on Thursday by Science and Technology Australia to kick off National Science Week and comes just days after the federal government rejected the a proposal to investigate setting up a Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

The report found nine in 10 Australians trust science and scientists, with 95 per cent of local respondents saying that science investment make the country stronger. The vast majority also said science should drive policy making. These measures are all higher in Australia compared to the global average.

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Trust the science, Australians say

On Thursday, STA will present its study to the government, alongside a panel of experts calling for science to play a greater role in policy making and the nation’s future.

STA chief executive Misha Schubert said the new data confirms the huge levels of trust from Australians in science and scientists.

“Science has been our saviour in the pandemic. Scientists around the world have worked round the clock on safe and effective new vaccines, careful public health strategies to save lives, and real-time data to support our frontline healthcare heroes,” she said.

“It’s heartening to see how strongly Australians recognise, respect, and are reassured by the powerful contribution science and our scientists have made. Australians also clearly want science to lead our social and economic recovery.”

On Tuesday, The Coalition knocked back a proposal to investigate the establishment of a Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology which would provide independent advice to policymakers.

Labor and the Greens moved a motion to launch an inquiry into the current state of scientific advice to the Parliament, with a particular focus on the potential establishment of a new office modelled on the UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, on Tuesday evening.

The motion followed a recommendation from a recent bipartisan committee report, but was voted down by Coalition senators along with One Nation.

Government Senators said a new office would be a waste of taxpayers money because it duplicated existing functions and “see no gain in the effectiveness and efficacy of scientific advice”.

The 3M State of Science Index also found a high percentage of Australians fear negative consequences for society id science is not valued, and scientists are critical to future wellbeing.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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