Australian government's decision to scrap science post denounced

Sept. 17, 2013 at 5:47 PM
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CANBERRA, Australia, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Scientists in Australia have criticized the country's newly elected government for its decision to scrap the Cabinet post of science minister.

The incoming Liberal Party government, which has dramatically switched strategy on climate change and voided the country's emissions trading scheme, said its new Cabinet would have fewer appointees -- and no minister for science, reported Tuesday.

"Science will largely be in the industry portfolio," said incoming prime minister Tony Abbot, who ran for election on a platform of eliminating the carbon tax. Some responsibilities would also taken by the minister for education, he added.

Scientists have denounced the decision, saying a science minister is needed to provide a long-term vision for the country's science and research activities.

Scientists said they were particularly worried about decision's impact on the nation's strategy on climate change.

"The horizon for dealing with climate change is decades rather than one or two years," Les Field, a chemist and policy secretary at the Australian Academy of Science, said, "so one needs a strategic vision that looks forward decades."

Catriona Jackson, head of the science advocacy group Science & Technology Australia, agreed

"It's absolutely critical that we have a minister of science," she said. "You need someone to go into cabinet and fight for the scientific cause. There's science in virtually everything the government does."

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