[ASC-list] PM's and Minister's speeches from PM's Prizes dinner

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Wed Nov 17 23:47:56 UTC 2010

Dear ASers,

Last night the PM spoke about Inspiring Australia.

And Senator Carr talked about the importance of good science journalism.

Full text at http://www.scienceinpublic.com/blog/prime-ministers-prize/pmspeech

And http://www.scienceinpublic.com/blog/prime-ministers-prize/speech

Here's an extract from the PM's speech:

...That is why my government is investing $21 million over three years in Inspiring Australia, the country's first ever national strategy for science engagement.

This program has been developed by Senator Carr to champion the cause of science and help share the achievements of science with the whole nation.

The early phases of the strategy are already underway.

Through Inspiring Australia, we will continue to recognise achievement through these Prizes for Science.

We will continue to support National Science Week, Australia's premier vehicle for bringing science and research to the people, right across the country.

But Inspiring Australia will go further, supporting science events and activities in Australia's cities, regional and remote areas all year round.

We will target young people, outer-metropolitan and regional areas, and Indigenous and remote communities too.

We will connect with popular community events such as writers' weeks and music festivals.

And Inspiring Australia will connect with mainstream and new media to promote science issues and achievements to an even wider public.

You do great things.

Let's ensure the community gets to hear about them.

And from the Minister's speech:

...Think for a moment of how few special science rounds there are in our major dailies.

The Australian Science Media Centre has identified just eleven dedicated science writers writing in the major national and metropolitan papers. Eight of them double as environment, technology, or general news reporters.

So who's giving us the science news? More and more, it comes from what Robyn Williams calls 'the Dark Side' - the world of public relations. In a recent edition of The Walkley (February 2010), he points out that PR officers outnumber journalists twenty to one in the Australian Science Communicators.

Then there is social media, some of which is well-informed.
But a lot of it is not.
There is a mass of anecdote, opinion, and special pleading - all demanding to be treated as the intellectual equivalent of science.
There are too many people who are willing to acquiesce to that demand.

Since the days of Galileo, individual scientists have been reluctant to engage in public controversy.
A sense of isolation can be intimidating.
And intimidation is a powerful silencer.
That's why the friends of science within the political system have to speak up.
But we need more...

Niall Byrne
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