Thursday, September 4, 2008

HASS in the Capital - Day #2

Day 2 of HASS in the Capital, hosted in Canberra by the Council of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. A lot of the discussion was about process and futures for CHASS, but the main event was the address to the National Press Club by Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Industry, Innovation, Science and Research. The full text of Senator Carr's speech can be accessed here.

Senator Carr's speech contained a number of new initiatives, including the Australian Laureate scheme to replace Federation Fellowships, new policies to promote international research linkages, and a new Head of the CSIRO. For those who think that the arts and humanities have something to offer national innovation policies, Senator Carr is very interested in developing such links at a practical level.

What was striking was that the questions at the National Press Club are only asked by the assembled (small) group of journalists, who receive the speech in advance. It was fascinating to note that of the 10 questions, only two could be said to relate to the Minister's themes in the speech around education and research, and one of those was asked by the moderator, Ken Randall. Others came with set question about the car industry, the textile industry, carbon reduction policy (two questions, including one by Glenn Milne (see earlier post)), and one on whether it would be innovation if the Minister's department started using green pens instead of red pens.

A game of two halves. Good speech; crap questions from the media. This may be about how CHASS has to do more to make its issues more relevant to the media, but it also showed a high degree of laziness among the assembled journalists.

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