This afternoon, I attended the launch of the Science in Australia Gender Equity Pilot of the Athena SWAN Charter, which aims to help improve gender equity and diversity in science, technology, engineering and maths. As someone with two sisters who are scientists—Meg is a former AIDS researcher and now a winemaker and Amy is a neurologist—I know the systemic and cultural impediments faced by women in STEM. So I applaud SAGE and the work that it is doing to get more women into STEM and to keep them there.
I would like to applaud the universities and institutions who have signed up to the charter program, one of which is the CSIRO—an agency that lost almost $115 million in the government's 2014 budget. The Abbott government also cut $878 million from science and research agencies in last year's budget. The scale of this government's attack on science is quite extraordinary. Over the past two years this government has cut funding to the CSIRO and other agencies, proposed to treble the cost of science degrees, failed to appoint a science minister and shown general contempt towards scientists and their work. These attacks are reckless and will jeopardise Australia's future prosperity, innovation and creativity.
I ask our new Prime Minister to restore funding to our science agencies, appoint a science minister and show science and scientists everywhere the respect that they deserve.