Carefully considered or bad decision?

by on 21 September, 2013


Jim McCrudden 

Dr Dennis Jensen, BAppSci, MSc, PhD, has worked with distinction in industry and with the CSIRO. His PhD is in Materials Science and Physics. At the CSIRO he worked as a researcher but also as an analyst at the Defence Science and Technology Organization. 

He still makes serious contributions with regards to the Joint Strike Fighter debate, climate change, nuclear energy, scientific research, National Broadband Network, and education matters. He is on the Advisory Board of the Australian Research Council (Centre of Excellence) for Anti Matter/Matter Research.

Cutting it short, he is the most highly qualified Federal MP in science—on all sides.

So when the opportunity arose of appointing Jensen Minister for Science he was obviously the favourite in the minds of anyone who was interested.

Abbott clearly thought about it.

But rather than put this highly qualified man in that position, Abbott, in an act of craven cowardice abolished the position of Minister of Science altogether!!

The ALP had done the groundwork of effectively destroying the position of Science Minister and reshaping it into a sinecure for speechmakers by appointing schoolteachers and economists and union bosses to be Science Ministers. Simultaneously, they twisted the CSIRO so much that the initials now stand for the Corrupted Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. But in that, it could be argued, they were merely short of competent people. The Coalition had been no better.

Corrupting the CSIRO was another thing altogether, of course. That was political and was done cynically to get support for their Global Warming agenda.

But why did Abbott abolish the Ministry altogether rather than appoint Jensen? Why not keep it? Reform it? Take science seriously?

Because Jensen carries baggage. Nearly ten years ago when even men like Howard were running scared from the Global Warming scare, Jensen proclaimed that the so-called evidence was ridiculous and that the models were worse – they didn’t even half work.

Oh, God, thought Abbott as he went on his knees at church, I will be slandered and shamed in the Fairfax press if I appoint a climate skeptic to the position. And the ABC will eat me up. There will be snide remarks in Crikey! Jokes about science hating misogynists. Only one thing to do – take the coward’s way out.

Abbott could choose between dishonour and vilification.

He chose dishonour and got vilification. Every scientist polled in the country was astonished and disbelieving. What, keep a Sports Minister and remove the Science Minister? Are you nuts, the cry went? Crazy?

Abbott said science would “largely” be in the industry portfolio, under incoming minister, Ian Macfarlane.


What the hell does that mean? 60%? 90%? What? And who will be doing the rest? The Minister Responsible for Sitting Behind the PM and Nodding When the PM Addresses Parliament? The Attorney General? The Under-secretary to the Tea-lady’s Deputy Assistant?

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, complains that development of science is already too fragmented, “Already it’s spread across multiple budget lines; at the last count we had something over 70 spread over something to the order of 14 portfolios and we could miss things if we aren’t strategic in the way we go about it.”

So why not appoint the best man for the job?

Because it was politically inexpedient.

Appointing someone with no qualifications would carry huge criticism. It would run for years. It will smear all the other appointments.

Anyway, he thought, Jensen talks too much. The coalition’s policy on emissions has exactly the same target as Labor had, and Jensen may have words to say about that.
Abbott abolished the Ministry of Science because it was politically expedient?

That – because it was the gutless thing to do.

Leave a Reply