Full-time science advisor wanted down under

During the six years that Robin Batterham served as Chief Scientist of Australia, from 1999 until last month, he weathered repeated accusations that his independence was sullied by conflicts of interest.

Stephen Pincock
Jun 19, 2005

During the six years that Robin Batterham served as Chief Scientist of Australia, from 1999 until last month, he weathered repeated accusations that his independence was sullied by conflicts of interest. Perhaps that perception was unsurprising, considering Batterham served his country on a part-time basis. Two days a week, he advised the national government on its research priorities and policy; the rest of the time he worked as chief technologist for the mining giant, Rio Tinto.

All that came to an end in May, when Batterham announced he was resigning from the government post to work for Rio Tinto on a full-time basis. Batterham told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that he quit for two reasons. "One, government and everyone else in Australia has got science and innovation much more on its agenda than it was six years ago," he says. "So to some extent I think I can step...

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