||Issue No. 219||07 May 2004|
The Mouse That Roars
Interview: Machine Man
Unions: Testing Times
Bad Boss: Freespirit Haunts Internet
Unions: Badge of Honour
National Focus: Noel's World
Economics: Safe Refuge
International: Global Abuse
History: The Honeypot
Review: Death And The Barbarians
Poetry: Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Justice For Victims Denied
It was Boffinmania at the intellectual home of the Federal Government, Senator Nick Minchin's office, when Dr Robin Batterham was appointed as Chief Scientist of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Unfortunately Senator Nick Minchin was not considered smart enough to hang onto the Science portfolio and that august role fell to "Einstein" McGauran who reappointed Batterham as Chief Scientist in May 2002.
For the better part of ten years Dr Batterham has been Managing Director, Research and Technology Development at Rio Tinto, helping them find new and better ways to rip off some of the world's poorest communities. His new part time sit has given the mining industry a nice "open door" to the Prime Miniature's office.
Batterham has kept a straight face while claiming that his public role and his job as a senior executive with the mining group Rio Tinto did not constitute a conflict of interest.
Rio Tinto's latest claim to fame is its outstanding effort to provide drinking water to its employees and the surrounding community at its Ranger Uranium mine. Unfortunately the drinking water contained Uranium. Maybe the Chief scientist can explain this sterling example of the beautiful minds in our mining industry in action?
At the time of his appointment Senator Minchin said Dr Batterham's expertise would "assist the Government in its commitment to improve research commercialisation within Australia".
This is in keeping with the Federal government's 'Not Nailed Down' strategy, which by all accounts is a nice little earner for industry.
Dr Batterham holds degrees in chemical engineering from Melbourne University, and worked for the CSIRO between stints in the UK, Canada and the US where he worked for such great corporate citizens as ICI.
His time at the publicly funded CSIRO allowed him to do the sort of research in areas such as mining, mineral processing and iron making that always seems a bit too hard for Australian industry and those multinationals that would rather the Australian taxpayer subsidise their very private profits.
Interestingly, the fearlessly independent Dr Batterham holds a number of directorships, including on the Boards of Comalco Aluminium Limited and a number of Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) - the same CRCs that are facing the axe under the federal government's 'Pay To Play' attitude to R&D.
Luckily Rio Tinto have no concept of the public good or the good Doctor may have been troubled by his policy successes.
Luckily for old Batters the two day a week Chief Scientist possie comes with a salary $90,000 a year from the Government, which he pockets on top of the $250,000 a year he takes from Rio Tinto, as well as an extraordinarily generous travel allowance.
The Sydney Morning Herald revealed a while back that Dr Batterham's travel expenses averaged more than $500 a day between May 31, 1999, and December 31, 2002, for his two-day a week job, including trips to events sponsored by Rio Tinto.
The acting Minister for Science, Kevin Andrews (now there's a scary thought!), rushed to the good Doctor's defence, saying that Dr Batterham's science policy advice to the Government was not prejudiced by his position with Rio Tinto.
But in the great tradition of never holding an inquiry unless you already know the answer Batterham has conducted a number of inquiries for the Federal Government that should help it wash its hands of any of that brain stuff that it seems to find so difficult.
He also came in handy when the Government needed an excuse to run away from its responsibilities to the Kyoto Protocol's emissions trading scheme, luckily there was an alternative program that Rio Tinto had a commercial interest in.
We now look forward to Batterham's research into how long a Howard appointee can keep his snout in the public trough before self-respect demands that they resign.
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|
© 1999-2002 Workers Online