Kia ora. Nga mihi nui, kia koutou, kia ora.
On behalf of the Green Party, it’s inspiring to march with you as part of a global movement, standing up for science.
It’s great to be here with you today because when you look around the world, the state of science is concerning: Donald Trump is gagging scientists, we see the rise of ‘alternative facts’ and a real strain in science funding.
I’ve taken a few physics papers at Victoria University and I guess thanks to science, we can take some solace knowing that there’s possibly an alternative universe somewhere out there where Hillary won, better yet, Bernie; in this parallel world scientists have all the funding they need and the Greens are the biggest party in Parliament and I’m six foot tall – sorry I had to put that last one in there.
I want to thank the people marching today. It’s important. Right now there’s a US president that is against science – he’s restricting scientists ability to speak, censoring climate change, and put an anti-vaxxer on a Presidential Vaccine Commission. That’s a big worry.
I’ve seen it here it in our own Parliament, with a certain former Prime Minister’s comments about scientists being like lawyers, or scientific research ignored as advocacy and that’s a big worry.
In New Zealand we have strained science funding and we still spend less than half the OECD average on research and development and patent four time less, that’s a big worry if we want a richer New Zealand.
The thing about science is it shouldn’t be a political debate. Neil de Grasse Tyson, who is coming here soon said “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” I agree but would point out the way science is funded and communicated is political.
We need to demand politicians respect science and scientists ability to speak, and I support Professor Sean Hendy’s call to institute an independent Commissioner of Science
We need to encourage science education, science in the media and I’ve recently released a Public Journalism Fund to support specialist reporting like this and supported the opening of science communication.
We also need to fund it appropriately and I would like to see the country set a goal of getting research funding above the developed world average.
I believe in evidence-based decision making and the evidence is clear – when we support, promote and invest in science we have a richer society.