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The role of science in policymaking

Stephen Easton writes in The Mandarin (2.2.15):

‘Most policy development needs a good beaker of science. But, as eminent economist and former top federal mandarin Michael Keating says, facts are not the only consideration.

‘Policy debate brings different value systems into conflict; choices must made, and actions taken within timeframes and budgets, often in reaction to unexpected events and with unexpected consequences. As illustrated by Keating and other speakers at an all-day Canberra forum on science and policymaking arranged by Science and Technology Australia, the relationship between the two can be awkward.

‘Most of the time, the role of science in policy is obvious and uncontroversial, Keating pointed out. Its conclusions only become controversial when they suggest major changes to our economy and way of life, like restrictions on water use or new ways to generate energy in the era of climate change. That’s when the fun starts.’

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