BOTH major political parties in Australia are neglecting science — and it will be to the detriment of our future, says Barry Jones.
Mr Jones, a former science minister in the Hawke government, said in Albury yesterday that science was seen as “too difficult” but was essential to all aspects of life.
“You could make a pretty fair bet that all the thrilling debates we’re going to have (in the election campaign), the ‘S’ word won’t be mentioned,” he said.
“But everything — from health care, to communication, to accessing information — it’s all totally dependent on science.”
Mr Jones made the comments while visiting Charles Sturt University for National Science Week before speaking at the Albury Entertainment Centre last night.
School students from across the region had the chance to hear from, and work with, Mr Jones.
He was blunt on the role science plays in education, again criticising both parties for ignoring the subject.
“The Gonski (Better Schools) report pointed out that in areas like physics, chemistry, maths, our competitors in Asia and south-east Asia are going to eat us alive,” he said.
“I think people see science as too difficult, so as a result we’re doing better in literacy and numeracy.”
Politicians and scientists, he added, did not work on the same timelines, which made things more difficult.
“Politicians want things now, so when scientists say it will take three or four years before there’s an outcome, that’s too long for them,” he said.
Mr Jones, 80, was a popular addition to Science Week activities, with students clamouring around to ask questions.
The week, hosted by CSU with the Astronomical Society of Albury Wodonga, saw more than 700 primary and secondary students engage in activities showing how science is part of our everyday lives.
And what does Mr Jones make of the nation’s potential next science minister should the Coalition win the election, Indi incumbent Sophie Mirabella?
“I’d be worried,” he said.