Australia Promotes Support For Science And Innovation Amid New Report Predicting Economic Decline By 2050

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Construction workers build scaffolding at the site of a new apartment tower in Sydney
Construction workers build scaffolding at the site of a new apartment tower in Sydney November 30, 2012. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

Science and innovation in Australia are expected to help boost the country’s economy. The Abbott government has indicated it is ready to provide greater support for science and technology.

In her first speech as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science, Karen Andrews has called on primary and secondary schools to promote math and sciences including engineering and technology. Andrews was promoted to the post after a reshuffling of the Cabinet in December.

As SMH has reported, Andrews said the federal government would consider every recommendation indicated in the 2014 report of Professor Ian Chubb that called for a national plan to improve Australia’s competitiveness through science and innovation. She added that the government understood the benefits of improving literacy for science and math.

Her speech calling for support followed a new report that warns of Australia’s slipping economy in the future. According to a research by PwC Australia, the economy will no longer be included in the top 20 of the world’s largest economies as Australia is predicted to drop from 19th to 29th by 2050.

Matt Barrie, one of the country’s top technology entrepreneurs, said that unless the Australian government will change the way it views skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, it will continue to fall in world economy rankings. He believes the government’s policies on scientific research including funding cuts can put Australia at “risk of becoming a shipwreck.”

The report said that the end of the Australian mining boom and the lack of investment in other areas of the economy will cause the country’s decline. PwC ranks economies based on a comparison of their purchasing power parity.

The World in 2050 report has placed Australia behind countries with growing economies like the Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The U.S., China and India are predicted to remain at the top of the rankings in the next 35 years.

Jeremy Thorpe, PwC Australia economics partner, told SmartCompany that the research points to the Australian economy “won’t see the mining boom in the same way.” He said PwC’s report is an indication that STEM will continue to be important for economic growth. 

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