SYDNEY—Scientific issues played virtually no role in Australia's federal election earlier this month, dashing scientists' hopes that the campaign would focus public attention on policy and funding questions and raising doubts about the effectiveness of the country's new science lobby.

The formation last year of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) had raised expectations that scientists' voices would be heard when the political dice were next thrown. But FASTS, like most of the Australian electorate, was caught unprepared when Prime Minister Bob Hawke scheduled polling for July 11, and it did not mount a campaign.

Hawke, whose Labor government was returned to office in the election, had assured the nation that his government would serve out its full three-year term, which expires next year. But he later called for the election this month to capitalize on a major rift in the opposition coalition of Liberal and National...

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