Chief Science advisor key appointment – Updated

John Key has appointed Professor Peter Gluckman as the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor.

Mr Key says Professor Gluckman is one of the country’s leading scientists and he will make an important contribution in the newly created part-time role.

“This appointment delivers on the Government’s goal of including science at the heart of our decision-making.

“I campaigned on creating this role because I recognise that New Zealand’s prosperity rests on our ability to make full use of the expertise that our scientists can contribute.

“Professor Gluckman will provide me with a direct line to advice when I need it. He will be an independent voice that will complement existing channels of advice such as government departments and the Royal Society.”

. . . “This role is one of vital importance that demands not only a high level of science expertise, but also the utmost integrity to fairly represent the state of science knowledge.”

This is both a Key and a key appointment which indicates the government’s high regard for science.

Prof. Gluckman was founding director of the Liggins Institute. He’ll relinquish that position but continue his employment with Auckland University.

He was the NZ Herald New Zealander of the Year in 2004.

AgResearch chief executive Dr Andrew West welcomed Prof Gluckman’s appointment:

“This is an important step in the reinvigoration of science within New Zealand’s culture from being nice-to-have to being essential. The Prime Minister’s message in this appointment is that scientific contribution must once again be a significant component of New Zealand’s well-being and prosperity.”

Dr West and many in the scientific community have long been adamant that recognition of the importance of science to this country has declined in the face of scepticism about the contribution it can make. Such sentiment has been reflected in the stubbornly low priority placed on investment in science and technology when compared to the much greater commitment to S&T in other OECD economies, expressed as a percentage of GDP. This erosion of trust has resulted in short-term focus and excessive compliance expectations. Coinciding with the appointment of Professor Gluckman, there finally seems to be proper attention being paid to recovering trust in scientists and scientific institutions through a recent start to simplifying funding systems.

The announcement of the appointment coincides with much gnashing of teeth about changes to science funding, but as Macdoctor says, the facts on the canning of the Fast Forward fund don’t support the emotion.

One Response to Chief Science advisor key appointment – Updated

  1. Alan says:

    I’m confused. Whatever happened to the Office of the Government Chief Scientist? We used to have one a few years back – and supposedly independent from the various funding and policy processes. I can’t have been paying attention.

    In any case, placing someone like Professor Gluckman into the PM’s office can only be a good thing.

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