Nobody argues that science is perfect, but it has been an essential part of making us what we are, argues former Australian Chief Scientist Ian Chubb.
There will always be people who call for additional review or scrutiny of science when the results of a rigorous process don’t yield the outcomes they want.
Effectively they want incontrovertible evidence, and anything less is unacceptable to them. Incontrovertible evidence is rare in science, so it is easy to pick some cherry and use it to seed controversy and delay action.
History shows how effective the strategy has been. It also shows why the notion of the precautionary principle is so important. The principle requires that precautionary measures should be taken if the risk or threats of harm to (say) the environment are significant. It can mean taking action in the face of uncertainty.
The CSIRO has been forced to tell Australia’s next generation of scientists to get an ABN, as it tries to skirt around the public service staffing cap by hiring new talent as external contractors.
The CSIRO Staff Association has taken the extraordinary step of asking a parliamentary committee to force its executives to provide evidence about the extent of the use of external contractors, consultants and labour hire staff.
It has warned the 5193-person cap on permanent staff is severely undermining the national science agency’s mission.
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