TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA—The Australian scientific community is struggling to come to terms with its diminished political influence following the abrupt abolition of the Department of Science as part of a massive restructuring of federal departments after the national election July 11.

“The science lobby, such as it is, has been neutered,” commented Ian Lowe of Griffith University, an expert on Australian science policy, who also described “a high level of confusion in the bureaucracy.” The principal worry of analysts such as Lowe is that there will be more emphasis on short-term, utilitarian results from technology at the expense of long-term, less di rected investment in basic science. Following the Labour Party’s victory at the polls, Prime Minister Bob Hawke reorganized the 27 former departments into 16 new “megadepartments” headed by a cabinet-level minister. The Department of Science was split into four fragments absorbed into other ministries; Barry Jones, while retaining the...

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