Do we undervalue our public sector innovations?

Sep 11, 2012


Nadine Flood questions whether governments take our science and other publicly funded breakthroughs for granted.

The CSIRO is one of Australia’s most respected institutions. The Bureau of Meteorology is crucial in times of impending climate crisis. They are also part of the public service. And though their specialty is science, other areas of the public sector are also responsible for innovation — from agricultural land use to new ways of fighting tax evasion.

See a brief history of CSIRO achievements from wi-fi to dollar notes.

It’s a concept that is often lost at Budget time when governments keen to trim down costs often take a knife to the public sector. It’s easy pickings if the millions of dollars saved or made by innovations in technology, energy and health fail to be counted as assets.

The CPSU’s Nadine Flood tells 3Q how the CSIRO’s development of wi-fi technology transformed the world and brought $500 million into Australia through patent fees. Yet if the Opposition has its way, crucial funding of the sciences and other public sector innovation would be lost.
Further cuts on the grounds of “efficiency” will have long term effects on our ability to innovate.

Trust in Institutions

Jun 12, 2012

Q. How much trust do you have in the following institutions and organisations?

 

Total

trust

26 Sep 11

Total

trust

12 Jun 12

A lot of trust

Some trust

A little trust

No trust

Don’t know

% change

The High Court

72%

60%

20%

40%

24%

9%

7%

-12

The ABC

46%

54%

15%

39%

31%

10%

6%

+8

Charitable organisations

61%

50%

8%

42%

35%

10%

5%

-9

The Reserve Bank

67%

49%

13%

36%

30%

14%

7%

-18

Environment groups

45%

32%

6%

26%

35%

25%

7%

-13

The Commonwealth Public Service

  49%*

30%

4%

26%

42%

18%

9%

-19

Religious organisations

29%

27%

5%

22%

30%

37%

6%

-2

Newspapers

na

26%

3%

23%

46%

23%

5%

na

Online news media

na

23%

2%

21%

45%

25%

6%

na

Federal Parliament

55%

22%

3%

19%

37%

36%

6%

-33

Trade unions

39%

22%

3%

19%

32%

37%

9%

-17

Business groups

38%

22%

2%

20%

46%

24%

8%

-16

TV news media

na

21%

3%

18%

43%

30%

5%

na

Political parties

na

12%

2%

10%

31%

52%

5%

na

Note: ‘Total Trust’ is an aggregate figure achieved by adding ‘A lot of trust’ and ‘Some trust’.

* This Commonwealth Public Service figure is from a question asked in 6 Feb 12.

 

Respondents had most trust in the High Court (60%), the ABC (54%), charitable organisations (50%) and the Reserve bank (49%). They had least trust in political parties (12%), TV news media (21%) Federal Parliament, trade unions and business groups (all 22%).

Trust in all institutions (except the ABC) declined since this question was asked last year. The major changes were a collapse in trust in Federal Parliament (-33%) and substantial declines in trust in the Commonwealth Public Service (-19%), the Reserve Bank (-18%), trade unions (-17%) and business groups (-16%).

Compared to the average, Labor voters had more trust in political parties (19%), Federal Parliament (34%), the High Court (67%),  the Reserve Bank (57%), the Commonwealth Public Service (42%), trade unions (36%) and  environment groups (43%).

Liberal/National voters, compared to the average, had more trust in religious organisations (33%) and business groups (27%) but less trust in Federal parliament (17%), the ABC (46%), trade unions (14%) and environment groups (21%).

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