Investment in innovation and collaboration between researchers, industry and government is essential, according to minister for industry, innovation and science, Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO.
During an address to the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, Sinodinos challenged criticism of the Turnbull government's political and policy focus on innovation, specifically that it disenfranchises many Australians and creates anxiety about job security.
He argued this reflected the emergence of a wider "lack of respect for the scientific method."
"We see the conclusions of experts being cast aside, in favour of ideological positions and selective use of facts.
"Denying the threat of climate change is a well-worn example; however, rejecting vaccinations – at the risk of children’s lives and public health – resurfaced just this month.
"The only credible response to these positions is scientific fact. And more research, and more innovative thinking," he said.
Sinodinos said he wanted collaboration to become the "hallmark" of his time in the portfolio.
"It ties together everything we do in the research and innovation spaces. It uses industry links to commercialise what we do.
"But it’s also an issue in the portfolio that requires work," he said.
He highlighted a recent performance review of innovation that found Australia has strong rates of collaboration between researchers, but not research and business.
"We need to take a longer-term view, take more risks and learn from failure. We can only do that by collaborating to translate our publicly funded research into real products.
"This was not news to any of us. In the well-known 2012 OECD ranking, Australia ranked the lowest out of 27 countries on collaboration between researchers and innovative businesses.
"So there’s work to do. It’s why collaboration is a focus of our Innovation Agenda."