The Queensland Liberal-National Party (LNP) had its annual convention over the last few days and one of the motions passed urged a future LNP state government to establish a science office, which would have the ability to ratify or reject scientific reports handed to the government. This motion was moved by former state LNP MP for Hinchinbrook, Andrew Cripps. In support of this, Cripps stated “We want this passed so our parliamentary members can point to this policy and say this is how we are responding to the challenge of people with alternative views to make sure we’ve got good data to back up rational decision-making”. He was mostly concerned about the laws brought before state parliament, which seek to tighten regulations around farming and mining runoff into the Great Barrier Reef catchment. His assertion was that the science was “flawed” and that a science office would be able to “objectively” rule on such scientific advice1.
Of course, two of the ignoramuses in the federal parliament, MP George Christensen, and Senator Matt Canavan, who, disturbingly, is the current science minister, supported the resolution. Canavan stated: “To me it just makes common sense for there to be contestability in this space – science only moves forward when we can challenge ideas”1. This is true; science is all about contestability of ideas. But this is not what Canavan is on about; he is using this as a smokescreen. Canavan’s disingenuousness in this regard is clear, because the contestability he talks about is actually a large part of science already, and has been for centuries. Every scientist is able to, and often does, contest the science of every other scientist in their field of expertise. That is the way science works. If it wasn’t like that we still would not have General Relativity and would be unable to explain the orbit of Mercury. If it wasn’t like that, we would still believe that the oldest fossils were something like 500 million years old and not 3.5 billion years old. If it wasn’t like that we would still believe that many illnesses were caused by bad smells and not bacteria or viruses. If it wasn’t like that we still wouldn’t know about ice ages, mass extinction events, evolution by natural selection, the efficacy of vaccination and countless other advances, even the science behind the laptop on which I type this.
Science is already the subject of scrutiny by bodies which assess its validity, how logically it is presented, and how well the conclusions are supported by the data. These bodies are called editorial boards and they co-opt experts in the field to assist as required. These experts are called referees or reviewers. These referees do what is termed peer-review, before the results of the scientific research are published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. That is how science works.
Canavan, Christensen, Cripps and all these other LNP buffoons want to set up a body which will be replete with political appointees, to deny the validity of any science which may impact on the bottom line of Canavan’s party or its donors. This is particularly pertinent to climate science. Many members of the Coalition do not accept the science of climate change2, despite having no expertise in the science whatsoever, and despite those who they quote, having very limited understanding of it either3. Several of the members of the LNP also do not accept evolution either. How long would it be before the likes of Andrew Hastie and Scott Morrison could start to call into question evolution, notwithstanding that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. How long before people like Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott could start denying children vaccinations because they do not ‘believe’ in them. Politicians are elected to run the nation for the benefit of the populace, not for the benefit solely of their party. Putting their party before the wellbeing of almost 25 million Australians is criminal.