This valedictory speech for the ANU's National Security College outlines the interaction between academia and public policy in Australia, which has been an evolving mix of reticence and engagement, shared purposes and distinctive roles.
I would like to take the opportunity this evening to put the story of the establishment and development of the National Security College into the broader context of the interaction between scholars and policy practitioners in Australia, and to relate it particularly to the public policy mission of the Australian National University and the changing requirements of Australian national security policymaking.
In its modern form, the Australian story of the interaction between academia and public policy has been an evolving mix of reticence and engagement, shared purposes and distinctive roles. Academic engagement in Australian public policy has taken many forms over a long period of time.
For example, Professor James Cotton’s wonderful book published last year on The Australian School of International Relations highlighted eight extraordinary individuals who moved between universities and government service between the 1920’s and 1950’s focusing on, and significantly influencing, Australia’s changing international role and choices. Similarly, there have been many other Australian academics over the years who have seen themselves not as isolated intellectuals but as engaged contributors to community education in a broad sense and to a vibrant civic culture. Others again have conducted academic research in highly productive ways that have facilitated innovation, enterprise and scientific breakthroughs in partnerships with government and the private sector.