Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott forgot that science is evidence-based

With science removed from its ministerial portfolio list, the dismantling of a number of science-based advisory bodies, savage cuts to science funding and climate change denialism rampant in its ranks – surely the Abbott Government must have expected this when it had the gall to hand out the Prime Minister’s Prizes For Science as though science mattered to this federal government.

The Guardian 30 October 2014:

Tony Abbott received a frosty response from scientists after he called on them to lobby Labor and Greens MPs to support the government’s plan for a medical research fund.
Abbott, speaking at the prime minister’s science awards in Canberra on Wednesday night, reiterated a message from his speech at last year’s awards when he said the government should be judged “not by its titles but by its performance”.
“I hope our performance has at least passed muster over the past 12 months,” the prime minister said, to a smattering of applause at the Parliament House awards ceremony.
“That was desultory applause, but at least it was some,” Abbott said, in response to the tepid response from the assembled scientists….

This exchange has been carefully omitted from the official transcript of Abbott’s speech which can be found here.

This is not the first time scientists attending these awards have signalled their dissatisfaction by failing to bring their hands together in unison en masse.

After last year’s prize giving The Guardian noted on 31 October 2013:

“It’s been remarked upon that we don’t have a minister for science as such in the new government and I know that there are people in the room who may have been momentarily dismayed by that,” Abbott said.
“But let me tell you that the United States does not have a secretary for science and no nation on Earth has been as successful and innovative as the United States. I’d say to all of you please, judge us by our performance, not by our titles.”
Abbott’s speech, which drew a smattering of applause from the audience, provoked a mixed reaction.

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