Australia’s first chief scientist, Ralph Slatyer, has died at the age of 83. Professor Slatyer was appointed to the role in 1989 by then prime minister Bob Hawke. He remained chief scientist until 1992 and set up the Cooperative Research Centres in Australia.
The centres’ chief executive, Tony Peacock, says the pair went to primary school together in Perth. “He was of course a very eminent scientist by then (when he was appointed chief scientist),” he said. “He had been very senior in CSIRO and very senior at the ANU and he’d been Australia’s ambassador to UNESCO before that, so he’d had a very successful career.”
Mr Peacock says Professor Slatyer was concerned about the impact of the CSIRO moving off university campuses. “He was concerned that basic research being done at universities, that a generation of knowledge, wasn’t being used as much because there was less interaction with the CSIRO colleagues who’s job it was to deliver that science,” he said.