Friday, September 01, 2006

Systems failure arises in circumstances when mutiple perspectives are not valued
Current Australian Federal Government practices seem intent on creating the circumstances for systemic failure and associated unintended consequences. A powerful example comes from current head of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Prof. Ian Lowe as reported in an article entitled: 'Canberra critics bulldozed: ACF head'.

It is worth citing some of Tim Colebatch's report here:

"Professor Lowe, an award-winning environmental scientist, told the National Press Club that the ACF was now being treated as persona non grata by the Government, and cut off from access to ministers. He urged the Government to "turn the ship around" and restore a balance between environmental and economic priorities, citing a range of Government decisions he said had that put the scientific community of Australia under pressure to conform, including:

* Former Education Minister Brendan Nelson overturning research grants awarded by the independent Australian Research Council, "on advice from a shadowy group of unqualified ideologues".
*Health Minister Tony Abbott "stacking" the ethics committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council with people likely to favour his "unusual view of the world".
* The CSIRO instructing its scientific experts not to comment on issues that have policy implications, which led to the resignation of its top greenhouse gas specialist, Graeme Pearman. (The instruction was withdrawn after being made public.)

In an article in the September issue of Australasian Science, Professor Lowe also cited his own removal from one government advisory council, the abolition of a second council to which he belonged, and the appointment of former Telstra chief Ziggy Switkowski to chair the inquiry into nuclear power while he was a board member of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation."

This is an imporant article not only because of the circumstances for systemic failure that are being created but because it raises such significant ethical and political issues that are at the core of what it means to be 'democratic'.

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