Hon Colin Barnett MEc MLA

Hon Colin Barnett MEc MLA

Former Premier; Minister for Tourism; Science

    Science Statement sets WA's strategic direction

    21/04/2015 12:00 AM
    • Premier outlines science priorities for Western Australia
    • Aims to direct scientific effort to capitalise on WA's unique advantages
    • Sets directions for universities, research institutes and business to work together

    Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett has this morning released Western Australia's Science Statement outlining the State's priorities for scientific research.


    Speaking at the inaugural Science on the Swan conference in Perth, Mr Barnett said the science document - Growing Western Australia -  articulated the areas of science that the State Government believed should be prioritised to exploit WA's natural advantages, resources and build on existing areas of expertise to broaden the State's economy.


    "Science is fundamental to our society and affects every part of our life, from the food we eat, the medicines we take and the technology we use," the Premier said.


    "As we look forward, science will continue to be at the heart of our prosperity and health.  It is the key to unlocking WA's potential."


    Mr Barnett said WA had well-developed economic strengths around key commodities in minerals, energy, agriculture and fisheries.  It was also blessed with unique biodiversity and some of Australia's most important environmental assets such as the Ningaloo reef and the Kimberley.  Its vast unpopulated areas also made it ideal for radio astronomy.


    WA's universities and research institutions have also developed a well-established reputation for expertise in health and medical research.


    The Premier said WA was also well placed in the Asian region with established economic relationships which could be leveraged to further build scientific collaborations.


    "We need to continue strengthening our collaborations and create genuine partnerships between universities, research institutes, industry and Government, locally, nationally and internationally," he said. 


    "While WA's potential is huge, resources are finite and it is important to set priorities in order to focus effort on areas of comparative advantage."  


    Mr Barnett said the five priority areas were mining and energy; health and medicine; agriculture and food; biodiversity and marine science, and radio astronomy. 


    "By focusing on these areas, we can achieve tangible goals, such as increasing crop yields and ensuring sustainable food supplies, lowering the cost of mining and finding cures for medical conditions," he said.


    The Premier said he hoped the statement would also increase community awareness of our scientific capabilities and the importance of science to our economic and social well-being. 


    "I would also like to see this statement help to promote and encourage innovation in the private sector," he said.


    Mr Barnett said the statement was a starting point only; the next step would be for the State Government to develop long-term strategies that build on the identified capabilities. 


    "Achieving this requires industry, universities, research institutes and Government to work together to identify, invest and deliver on strategies that take full advantage of our opportunities," the Premier said.


    "This is a statement for all of Western Australia, not just the State Government.  It is a clear signal and recognition of the role that science plays in a modern, sophisticated economy and a safe, healthy society."


    The conference aims to display the very best of medical science and health research in WA. It brings together all five of WA's major universities (The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University and The University of Notre Dame) in partnership with the key teaching and research hospitals, the medical research institutes of WA and the State Government through the Department of Health and the Office of Science.
    Fact File

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