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It’s a pleasure to take a moment, in your company, to think about where Australia’s science and technology future is headed. Beyond this, to think about how that future can contribute to global security and prosperity.

As members of the Australian-Israel Chamber of Commerce, you are already well versed in understanding the value of international links for the economy. Today though, I would like to talk about the value of globalised science- not only for the economy, but for all foreign policy.

And I speak of this from a unique position. As Chief Scientist for Australia, I am an independent advisor for the government and an advocate for science here in Australia. I also have a responsibility to advocate for Australian science internationally – one of the many hats I wear is as science diplomat.

At first glance, scientists and diplomats are not obvious bedfellows. While science is a quest for truth, Sir Henry Wotton, the 17th century English diplomat, famously pegged an ambassador as “an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.”

Regardless, science diplomacy is gaining tract world wide. It is a term that captures the various roles science plays in foreign policy, with a particular emphasis on the ability of science to build partnerships between countries – partnerships that can be sustained regardless of the political winds.

President Obama has made a concerted effort to improve foreign relations by using science diplomacy, appointing three  ‘Science Envoys’ and making the famous ‘call to partnership’ with the Muslim community in 2009, announcing the establishment of three cooperative science centres. Likewise, the UK Foreign Secretary recently appointed for the first time, a scientific advisor to the Foreign Office, and just last week called for a much stronger role for science in foreign policy, stating “the scientific world is fast becoming interdisciplinary, but the biggest interdisciplinary leap needed is to connect the worlds of science and politics.”