Rumour has it that at least three National cabinet ministers are chasing the soon to be vacated Minister of Science and Innovation role. Present Minister Wayne Mapp steps down from Parliament after the upcoming election.
Assuming National gets back into power post-November, it’s an encouraging sign and recognition of role that science, and more particularly its income-generating kissing cousin, innovation, can play in the economy.
Ideally John Key would take on the role (though he’s not one of the three names being whispered at this stage). Like the Denmark and Finland’s of the world, having your top dog literally and figuratively trying to herd the economy down a growth path could only be good.
However, the recognition by politicians of both the benefits of a strong science and innovation platform, and for their own political aspiration, of the Minister’s role, is a welcome change.
Post-election, it might also be an opportunity for the Minister of S&I position to rise above its present ranking of 13. Again, if government really wishes to indicate the importance it sees for the conversion of good ideas to income, an elevation of its position can’t come soon enough.
Finally, on a ‘but of course’ moment, an observation as recently pointed out to sticK.
The recent merger of the Foundation and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology into a single MSI entity makes things a lot easier from an overseas trade mission point of view.
Other countries, when visiting New Zealand, bring their trade, defence, science and other officials as part of the general discussion team.
The fact that New Zealand, until recently, has had two government science overview bodies, has made it problematic of which officials to take overseas when we head to other countries.
No such problem now.