Gravestones: The destruction of scientific capacity

Gravestones: The Destruction of Scientific Capacity

“Australia has a long and inglorious record of establishment by governments of valuable, valued and successful science-based initiatives … that address issues of major continuing importance, only to later abolish them. The results are loss of focus, loss of group knowledge, loss of expertise, loss of analytical capability, wasted effort and resources, wasted expenditure and – most of all – wasted opportunity.”

So commences a draft paper by Society member David Marlow entitled Creating and then abolishing bodies of scientific knowledge, expertise and analytical capability: An Australian political malaise . Mr Marlow has made available the Tables from his manuscript, Gravestones , and seeks critical comment from scientists, public servants and others who have personal knowledge of these organisations.

There are four tables:

Table 1: Birth and death of a  sample of scientific initiatives, 1985-2015.

Table 2: Principal function, aim or goal to be achieved by the initiative.

Table 3: Probable reasons for (and rationales used to justify) abolition of initiatives.

Table 4: Epitaphs – achievements in life and the consequences of premature deaths.

Mr Marlow has to date been unable to discover scholarly analyses of the life and death of these bodies except the Resource Assessment Commission. He encourages those with personal knowledge to publish similar peer-reviewed analyses of their initiatives along the lines of those published on the RAC*.

* STEWART, D. & MCCOLL, G. 1994. The Resource Assessment Commission: An Inside Assessment. Australian Journal of Environmental Management Volume 1, 1994 – Issue 1.

An opinion piece by the President referring to these tables was published in The Mandarin online newsletter on 12 July 2019.

To contribute to this investigation, contact Mr Marlow via <marlow46 AT SYMBOL>