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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Where to for science policy?

At a time when the position of science in Australia appears low – with public spending cuts, the political hostility to science-based issues, no actual ‘science’ minister for the first time in many years, and with Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane telling scientists to “make yourself relevant” – where lies the future for our science? Of course, good science continues here, as exemplified by the release of the 25th anniversary of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, with the 2014 winners receiving 15 prizes for outstanding contributions to Australian science. And the journal Nature has just published Assessing Science, showing the strengths of Australian s... Read more...

Astronomical events

Some 242 years ago, Captain James Cook explored the eastern coast of Australia, after having been sent to the South Pacific Island of Tahiti to observe the transit of the planet Venus in 1769. He was sent there partly in order to help astronomers of the day estimate the size of the solar system. Australia’s long and distinguished association with astronomy had begun.On 6th June 2012, just before 8:30 am along the east coast of Australia, the tiny dot of the planet Venus will again pass slowly across the face of the Sun, as seen from Earth. Such ‘Transits of Venus’ are infrequent events; the next transit does not occur until 2117 so this is one for us to savour. Many smaller observatories her... Read more...

Australia's current spending on science research and development

  The awarding of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics to Professor Brian Schmidt, an Australian National University (ANU) professor of Astrophysics, for his role in the discovery that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, is a significant achievement not only for ANU but also for Australia. It is the first time in almost one hundred years that an Australian has won a Nobel Prize in Physics – William and Lawrence Bragg, a father and son team, were the last Australians to win a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915 – and it is the sixth Nobel Prize to be won by an ANU researcher. In light of this great achievement, it is pertinent to ask about the broader state of he... Read more...

Science Weeks and Years

National Science Week (13-21 August) is now upon us, with more than one thousand events across the country. Also unfolding, with perhaps less publicity, is the International Year of Chemistry. Both foster public awareness of science and technology and associated careers.International Year of Chemistry 2011 The United Nations declared 2011 the International Year of Chemistry (IYC) under the unifying theme ‘Chemistry—Our Life, Our Future’. Here, the International Year of Chemistry celebrates the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind, with opportunities for public participation (particularly for young people and women), at the local, regional, national a... Read more...

Conscience votes in the federal Parliament

.tableheader { border-color:#000000; border-spacing: 0; border-style: double; border-top-width:0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; } #table1, #table2 { border-collapse: collapse; border-bottom-width:thin; border-style: solid; border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-top-width:1px; } #table1 td, #table1 th, #table2 td, #table2 th { padding: 1px 1px 1px 2px; } .js table tbody .even th, .js table tbody .even td { background: none repeat scroll 0 0 #ffffff } On 29 September 2010 the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, introduced the Restoring Territory Rights (Voluntary Euthanasia Legislation) Bill 2010 into the Senate. All poli... Read more...

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