Extract from National Rock Garden Newsletter No. 12, March 2016

The 16th annual Science meets Parliament (SmP) took place on 1–2 March 2016, in Canberra. The event brought some 200 scientists together for a two-day program of professional development and networking aimed at helping them to better communicate their science to the media, policymakers and parliamentarians. A large number of MPs participate in SmP, which is strongly supported by the both the Federal Government and Opposition parties.

SmP is organised by Science & Technology Australia (STA), Australia’s peak science body representing more than 68,000 scientists across all science and technology disciplines. Membership of STA is not an individual membership, but via a wide range of science societies and groups of which individual scientists are members. For example, Brad Pillans is a member of the Geological Society of Australia, which is a member of the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC), which in turn is a member of STA. It sounds a bit complicated, but it does allow a very large number of scientists to have a united voice in promoting science to the wider community, including parliamentarians.

Each member organisation of STA can send up to two delegates to SmP, and Brad was fortunate to attend as a representative of the AGC. Since a major aim of AGC is to promote geoscience education, this gave him an opportunity to highlight the National Rock Garden. Brad met with two politicians – The Hon John Cobb MP (National Party member for Calare, NSW) and Senator Larissa Waters (Greens Senator for Queensland), both of whom showed a depth of knowledge and an interest in a wide range of science topics, including the NRG.

From left to right: Senator Larissa Waters, Dr Lee Rollins (Genetics Society of Australasia), Dr Line Bay (Australian Coral Reef Society), Prof Brad Pillans and Dr Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt (Institute of Australian Geographers). Image supplied by the office of Senator Waters.