The Rationalist Society of Australia has put the idea of a Parliamentary Science Office firmly on the radar of new ACT senator David Pocock, who advocated for the importance of science in his first weeks of parliament.
In a letter to the independent senator, RSA president Dr Meredith Doig praised him for strongly standing up for science during one of his first speeches in the opening fortnight of the new parliament.
In his speech to the Senate on 27 July, Senator Pocock said millions of Australians wanted policy decisions in the 47th parliament “to be guided by science” and politicians to “start to genuinely listen to our scientists”.
“We agree with you wholeheartedly that we must value and celebrate the contributions made to the community by our scientists. We also agree with you that Australians want the 47th Parliament to genuinely listen to scientists and de-politicise what scientists say when it comes to policy, especially in areas such as climate and the environment,” she said.
Dr Doig urged Senator Pocock to consider pushing for the establishment of a Parliamentary Science Office that could provide independent scientific advice for all members of the parliament.
While the executive branch of government can access multiple sources of scientific advice, MPs and senators rarely have the same access to such expertise.
Soon after the federal election, Dr Doig wrote to new science minister, Ed Husic, about the idea, arguing it would be of great public benefit if all MPs and senators could have access to well-grounded and impartial scientific advice, evidence and data.
In her letter to Senator Pocock, Dr Doig pointed out that the Australian Academy of Science was also advocating for a Parliamentary Science Office and that a 2021 Senate committee had recommended it.
“We believe all MPs and senators should have access to well-grounded and impartial scientific advice, evidence and data. While the executive branch of government has access to multiple sources of scientific advice, MPs and senators are rarely able to access such expertise,” Dr Doig wrote
The RSA has also advocated the proposal of a Parliamentary Science Office with Senator Dorinda Cox, the science spokesperson for the Greens.
In the new term of parliament, the RSA will be pushing for a number of policies that would boost scientific research and innovation in Australia, and the place of science in society.
Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman
Image: David Pocock (Facebook)