The Hon Karen Andrews MP has served in the Industry and Science portfolio since 2014, and was appointed Minister for Industry, Science and Technology in 2018. With a background in engineering, she is a passionate advocate for science and research. We asked her to share her priorities for the new Parliamentary term.
It’s a great honour to continue as Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.
I’m excited to be at the forefront of a portfolio which I think will be central to Australia’s prosperity into the future.
My priorities are to promote economic growth and create jobs for Australians by building industrial and research capacity.
This involves opening up opportunities for business and investment. It also involves the pursuit of equality of opportunity for individuals.
We want more Australians to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects and to pursue the careers that flow from them. It’s essential we equip our children with STEM skills, so they can fill the jobs of the future.
This is why I was delighted to announce an additional $15 million in funding in the 2019-20 Federal Budget for Questacon to expand its successful Science Circus and Engineering is Elementary programs.
There’s an even greater challenge to get more girls and women to discover the excitement and rewards of embracing STEM opportunities.
The Government’s Advancing Women in STEM strategy sets out our commitment to improve the participation of women across all STEM fields.
Australia needs to be at the forefront of technological developments. We aim to reward innovation and stimulate industries to be competitive in the global marketplace. We need our best and brightest students, both male and female, to get involved.
The foundation for advancing our industrial development is strong economic management and forward-looking policies in investment, trade, technology, skills and energy.
The future of Australian industry lies in producing internationally competitive high-value products and services, developed with specialised skills and technologies that connect machinery, devices and people.
Universities are at the forefront of our industrial innovation. For example, through our Cooperative Research Centres Program, industry, universities and research organisations are brought together to conduct and commercialise research.
New Cooperative Research Centres in emerging industries include future batteries and Cooperative Research Centres Projects funding for plastics recycling.
Our support for start-ups continues through the CSIRO Innovation Fund, Australian Landing Pads and Incubator Support Initiative, and our $2.4 billion investment in Australia’s research, science and technology capabilities. The Government is also helping female entrepreneurs access domestic and global markets with $18 million in funding through the Boosting Female Founders Initiative announced late last year.
Across the forward estimates, the Government has projected increases in most major R&D programs and activities including university block grants, the Cooperative Research Centres Program and the Australian Research Council competitive grants.
We have to embrace the benefits of technological advances and use them to improve existing businesses, create new products and markets, and enhance daily life.
We need industry engaging with our researchers to identify challenges and then creating their own solutions.
I’m particularly committed to connecting our small and medium sized enterprises with our researchers, so they too can take advantage of collaboration. This investment in research and development is central to ongoing success, which will grow the economy and create new jobs.
Another job-creating initiative that has captured the imagination of the public is the establishment of the Australian Space Agency. If you are a student considering your future and are interested in space, then you should get interested in STEM subjects. They are essential in the space industry.
We have a goal to triple the size of the space industry to $12 billion and create 20,000 new jobs by 2030. We have established a new $19.5 million Space Infrastructure Fund to support projects to further accelerate the growth of Australia’s space industry in states and territories.
Other initiatives include a new $50 million Manufacturing Modernisation Fund to assist manufacturers to invest in their businesses, so they can grow and employ even more people.
I will continue to build strong relationships between government, businesses, entrepreneurs, universities, research organisations and international partners to strengthen our industrial, technological and scientific base and advance the interests of Australia.
It is through working together toward a common goal that we can see Australia continue to prosper.