As part of National Science Week, Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon. Ian Macfarlane MP, recently addressed parliament on the importance of science and innovation in driving Australia’s productivity.

‘Science is critical for jobs, growth and business success,’ the Minister stated in his speech on 17 August. ‘It underpins our nation’s innovation capacity.’

Mr Macfarlane pointed out that while Australia’s productivity performance has improved, the gap has widened between our country and others such as the US. ‘At the moment, our businesses don’t invest enough in R&D and are less likely than our competitors to create new and improved products.

‘Australia’s position in the evolving economy relies on a realignment of industry policy which is now focused on facilitating the businesses of the future and supporting the entrepreneurial spirit of Australians.’

The Minister stressed the need for long-term planning, rather than focusing only on immediate results. ‘Scientists often work on long-term goals, patiently letting years of research finally deliver results that literally change lives for the better. That work should continue.’

Programs and initiatives

Australia’s industry is in transition, as new technologies come online and markets evolve. ‘The Manufacturing Transition Programme is one example of putting practical measures in place to bring cutting-edge science and technology to Australian industry,’ the Minister said.

Publicly funded research agencies will ‘work in partnership with business to identify and develop the science to address industry problems.’

The government’s Industry Growth Centres will ensure the science and research community knows industry’s needs and commercialisation opportunities. ‘These centres are the central element of the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda.’ The Cooperative Research Centres will support the work of the Growth Centres.

‘The National Energy Productivity Plan will require innovative efforts and the development and application of new technologies, from businesses and governments in delivering more efficient lower cost energy services for consumers.

‘Our new structure is taking shape and I look forward to seeing our scientists and our innovators working with our entrepreneurs to create new local jobs and more global success.’

See the full transcription of Minister Macfarlane’s speech, Science and Innovation Building Australia’s Industries of the Future.