The questions that count

Do we undervalue our public sector innovations?

Sep 11, 2012


Nadine Flood questions whether governments take our science and other publicly funded breakthroughs for granted.

The CSIRO is one of Australia’s most respected institutions. The Bureau of Meteorology is crucial in times of impending climate crisis. They are also part of the public service. And though their specialty is science, other areas of the public sector are also responsible for innovation — from agricultural land use to new ways of fighting tax evasion.

See a brief history of CSIRO achievements from wi-fi to dollar notes.

It’s a concept that is often lost at Budget time when governments keen to trim down costs often take a knife to the public sector. It’s easy pickings if the millions of dollars saved or made by innovations in technology, energy and health fail to be counted as assets.

The CPSU’s Nadine Flood tells 3Q how the CSIRO’s development of wi-fi technology transformed the world and brought $500 million into Australia through patent fees. Yet if the Opposition has its way, crucial funding of the sciences and other public sector innovation would be lost.
Further cuts on the grounds of “efficiency” will have long term effects on our ability to innovate.

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