Senate Occasional Lecture Series

Public lunchtime lectures held at Parliament House in Canberra, on topics related to Parliament and governance. Transcripts, audio and television recordings of past lectures are also available.

Senate occasional lecture series

Why do we fund government research labs? What have they done for us?

Dr Cathy Foley

Date: Friday 7 June 2019
Time: 12.15pm to 1.15pm
Location: Main Committee Room, Parliament House

Dr Cathy Foley

The Australian government funds a wide range of government research laboratories including CSIRO, ANSTO, Geoscience Australia, TGA, AIMS, BoM, Antarctic Division and DST. Collectively they employ thousands of scientists, technologists and engineers. They are often not recognised as a force that has enabled Australia to be prepared for and respond to threats as well as having a major impact on society, the economy and the culture of Australia.

In this talk Dr Foley explores the role and impact of government laboratories in solving our greatest challenges using science and technology. How is the way we do science changing? How will the digital revolution that includes artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things, automation and robotics disrupt how we do research? How can the combination of digital and interdisciplinary research address some of the Australia’s greatest challenges such as the provision of water, energy, food, health and wellbeing, future industries and regional safety in a world with increasing population, climate change and emerging new world orders? Tackling these major challenges requires focus and significant effort at scale to have the breakthroughs needed to achieve real and enduring solutions.

Dr Cathy Foley was appointed CSIRO Chief Scientist in 2018. She has made significant contributions to the scientific community as president of several scientific societies and as a member of committees advising government on scientific and technological matters. Her achievements include NSW Government ‘Woman of the Year’ (2013), the International IEEE Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions to Applied Superconductivity (2014), the Clunies Ross Medal of the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering (2015) and the Australian Institute of Physics Medal for Outstanding Service to Physics (2016).

Past lectures


Date Presenter Transcript Type
8/03/2019 Professor Ken Benoit Analysing the Brexit debate through social media: topics, arguments, and attitudes
Video (Parlview)
Audio (MP3)
12/04/2019 Professor Joo-Cheong and Kate Griffiths Electoral campaign financing-two perspectives
Video (Parlview)
Audio (MP3)


Lecture transcripts, audio and television recordings