Science and Technology Australia convenes a Science Meets Parliament meeting each year, while Parliament is in session, where Australian science is put before parliamentarians in a series of face to face meetings.
Early March saw another fantastic Science meets Parliament, with around 200 working scientists coming together for two days of professional development and networking aimed at bridging the gap between science and politics.
The first day saw a panels of journalists, deputy secretaries of departments and Nobel Prize winner Brian Schmidt AC helping to prepare delegates for their meetings with parliamentarians the next day. Previous SmP alumni spoke about their experiences in engaging with parliamentarians and the importance of making a human connection.
Dr Rod Lamberts and Dr Will Grant from the ANU’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science ran a workshop to help delegates present their areas of research in an easily digestible 60-second presentation that cut through the jargon and delivered the exciting and intriguing parts of their work.
A gala dinner in the Great Hall at Parliament House capped off the day. In addition to all our delegates, the current and former chief scientist, some 40 parliamentarians, senior diplomats and industry representatives attended the dinner. Both the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne, representing the Prime Minister, and the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, spoke on the night about the importance of science and research to Australia’s economy, culture and place in the world.
The second day was even busier than the first, with close to 60 face-to-face meetings between parliamentarians and small groups of delegates. Some lucky scientists met with the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader. Delegates had the opportunity to make real connections with parliamentarians, explaining their work and why it matters.
Delegates also heard from former Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb AC, Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO, Assistant Minister Karen Andrews, Shadow Minister Senator Kim Carr, Shadow Minister Richard Marles and Dr Adam Bandt.
Judging by the many smiling (but tired) faces at the finale drinks and the sparkling feedback it’s safe to say that the event was a great success.
Science and Technology Australia, April 2016