Turnbull appoints pro-nuke man as chief "scientist"
I entirely approve of the fact that Alan Finkel is an energetic advocate of nuclear power. But that's a political matter, not a science matter. One might as well mention that he is rich, brilliant, Jewish and a supporter of Israel. I think well of all those things too but they are not scientific qualifications. As a retired scientist myself, I had hoped that a politically uninvolved scientist would get the job. But Turnbull knows his politics. And Finkel is politically clever too. He pushes nuclear power by joining the Greenie chorus against coal. So he more or less has everyone onside. A clever man indeed
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he's putting innovation at the heart of government policy with the appointment of an entrepreneur as Australia's new chief scientist.
Prominent engineer and neuroscientist Alan Finkel, who is also an advocate of nuclear energy, has been billed as the man who can help Australia bridge the gap between scientific research and industry.
It's one of Australia's weaknesses and it needs to be addressed if Australia is to remain a prosperous 'high-wage, generous social welfare net economy in the years to come', Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
'Science as part of innovation is at the very heart of this government's policy,' Mr Turnbull said. '(Dr Finkel) absolutely fits the spirit of the times in which we live. 'A scientist and an entrepreneur, an innovator, a communicator.'
Labor and the Greens also welcomed his appointment. 'Although we differ with him about nuclear power, we hope Dr Finkel's appointment represents a new scientific consensus that coal's days are numbered,' Greens MP Adam Bandt said.
Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said Australia was sixth in the OECD when it comes to quality of research but last when it comes to commercialisation of that research.
He said Dr Finkel fits into the government's new priority of linking business and science.
'We have demonstrably appointed him as a signal to the sector that we want science and business to be very much focused together in this country to create jobs, to create growth and to make breakthroughs that assist in the human development,' he said.
Mr Pyne said the government would announce a comprehensive innovation and science agenda by the end of the year.
Dr Finkel is Chancellor of Monash University and president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
He said Australia was at a 'critical moment', under a leadership team that appreciates the importance of science and technology and understands how it can deliver prosperity and productivity.
Dr Finkel takes the reins from Professor Ian Chubb as the government's top science adviser in January.
Prof Chubb said Dr Finkel came to the role with a 'rare blend of passion, patience and persistence the position demands'.