The Minister for Industry, Science and Technology provided this Statement of Expectations to ANSTO on 13 February 2020.
Statement of Expectations
The Hon Dr Annabelle Bennett AC SC
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Board
Locked Bag 2001
KIRRAWEE DC NSW 2232
Dear Dr Bennett
I am writing to outline my expectations of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).
As you know, the Australian Government places high importance on science and innovation as drivers of our economy, employment, social wellbeing and positive environmental outcomes. It is therefore essential that ANSTO continues to play a role in advancing the Government’s broader economic agenda by fostering a strong science and research base, innovation and links to businesses and enterprises.
I am confident ANSTO, as Australia’s nuclear science and technology agency, will continue its core mission to drive the application of nuclear science and research, and address national challenges, with benefits for all Australians.
I expect ANSTO to fulfil its purpose in a way that will achieve its vision to be a global science, research and engineering partner with a reputation for tackling complex problems and delivering outcomes to create a more sustainable world.
I expect ANSTO to use its nuclear facilities, infrastructure and capabilities to contribute to the economic, health and environmental wellbeing and security of Australians.
Resolving national challenges
ANSTO plays an important role in Australia’s science, technology and health systems. The ultimate goal of our contributions into these systems is to improve the way we live and to solve problems through translatable world-leading research.
I expect ANSTO to continue to deliver world-class research and nuclear science services as Australia’s national home of nuclear expertise and nuclear science facilities. I expect ANSTO to conduct a broad spectrum of nuclear-related research and development, and possess an expert understanding of global nuclear research, developments and emerging issues and opportunities.
I expect ANSTO to continue to assist the Government in protecting the national interest through the provision of specialised nuclear advice to Government, to Australian businesses with nuclear interests to ensure their global competitiveness and to act as a means of liaison between Australia and other countries on nuclear issues.
Advancing the Government’s policy priorities
The Government has a range of policy priorities that relate to science. I expect that ANSTO will continue to make an important contribution to government initiatives under the 2017 Science Statement; the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap; and the 2015 National Innovation and Science Agenda.
As the Government’s priorities develop, I consider it important that our own science and research efforts are brought to bear on these key challenges. As such, I expect you to work with the department on how the science and research capabilities of ANSTO can be harnessed in support of the emerging policy priorities of Government.
Supporting the health of Australians with nuclear medicines
I also expect ANSTO to maximise its capacity to provide specialised services and products, including providing nuclear medicine to the Australian community, as a priority, and to the global community.
- In the manufacturing and supply of nuclear medicines, I expect ANSTO to undertake this function efficiently, effectively and in line with best practice, ensuring an appropriate level of innovation and improvement towards future sustainability and service provision.
- As part of ANSTO’s financial sustainability, I expect ANSTO to continue to work with the Government towards ensuring that, in the supply of nuclear medicines, the full costs of their production and transportation and of the management of the resulting radioactive waste are reflected.
Working collaboratively to advance Australian industry
In advancing the Government's agenda, I expect ANSTO to collaborate with industry, universities and other publicly funded research agencies to achieve common objectives and solve real-world problems.
In particular, ANSTO should use national and international collaboration to increase the nation's ability to translate research into outcomes. I also expect ANSTO to engage with the Chief Scientist of Australia.
I also expect ANSTO to encourage engagement between researchers and business, including by facilitating mobility between ANSTO and other research organisations and industry. I expect ANSTO to encourage its researchers to engage with businesses to commercialise their discoveries and support the realisation of commercial outcomes for industry. I also expect ANSTO to engage with those industries where ANSTO’s capabilities and intellectual property can help those industries to become more globally competitive.
Managing research infrastructure and national facilities
ANSTO hosts Australian world-class research infrastructure that supports our leading-edge science and innovation. I am pleased to see that ANSTO is encouraging a wide range of users, including researchers and businesses to access and benefit from these facilities, and is committed to ensuring their sustainable and effective use.
The Government wants to ensure that Australia’s public science and research infrastructure is aligned with our broader economic strategy and is supporting innovation in the wider Australian economy. To meet this goal, I want to ensure that Australia maintains or increases utilisation rates of major science infrastructure.
Please continue to facilitate the use of major research infrastructure by Australian and international researchers, and encourage industry access to the usage and development of relevant facilities. You should leverage collaboration with research institutions, universities and businesses to maximise the benefits that such infrastructure can provide. ANSTO should also continue to work with my department to develop and use metrics to measure the success of this objective.
Embracing the digital economy
The digital economy is transforming how we do business and undertake our science and research. We know that Australia’s ongoing economic success will depend on our ability to harness technological advances to improve existing businesses, create new products and improve daily life. I encourage ANSTO to continue to use its digital capabilities and new technologies to benefit research outcomes.
I expect ANSTO to ensure that it complies with the Australian Cyber Security Centre Top Four Cyber Security Mitigation Strategies and to have sound general ICT controls. I also expect that ANSTO will continue to build a culture of awareness regarding the importance of security to the organisation’s mission, and maintain resilience and response capabilities to cyber-attacks.
Promoting STEM equity
My department recently released the Advancing Women in STEM Strategy and supported the development of the Women in STEM Decadal Plan, led by the Australian Academy of Science. I congratulate ANSTO on becoming one of the inaugural champions of the plan. I encourage ANSTO to continue to work closely with my department, the Women in STEM Ambassador and other key stakeholders across the STEM sector to drive cultural and social change. I expect ANSTO to build on its Science in Australia Gender Equity accreditation to provide an equitable workplace for all employees.
Driving your organisation’s performance
I acknowledge the functions of ANSTO as set out in the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Act 1987 (the ANSTO Act).
I expect ANSTO to be an exemplar of the Government's commitment to the effective governance and performance of its agencies, governed by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act).
In accordance with the PGPA Act, I expect ANSTO to develop an annual report and corporate plan and to provide these to me, as the responsible portfolio Minister, and to the Minister for Finance. In developing the annual report and corporate plan, I expect ANSTO to consult with me and my department, and to take into account the priorities and policies of the Government, especially as articulated in this Statement of Expectation.
ANSTO should keep developing and using metrics that measure meaningful success as well as identify what could be improved upon. The targets, highlighted in ANSTO’s Corporate Plan, need to ensure that each measure can be clearly traced back to the objectives established, and serve as milestones for gauging progress.
Sustainable operations and governance
I expect ANSTO to have a strategic and disciplined focus on the delivery of core responsibilities, consolidating past achievements, and driving enhancements to safety performance, financial management and the delivery of essential projects that support current legislative functions. I recognise that organisational change is a process that can take time to achieve, and in this context expect that ANSTO will be proactive in driving change.
This will require ANSTO to ensure that it has effective internal and external reporting arrangements, robust and proportional controls for managing risk, clear accountabilities and well understood delegations. Putting in place and monitoring the implementation of rigorous asset and capital management plans, including committing to a strategic plan for nuclear decommissioning, will be important areas for the Board’s nearer-term considerations, contributing to the longer-term certainty and stability of ANSTO. I also expect that ANSTO will continue to discharge its statutory responsibilities in a diligent manner and meet, and where prudent, exceed the standards required for public entities in relation to the management of its finances and other resources.
I expect the establishment of arrangements for the regular, independent evaluation of the Board. This is to ensure that Board performance continues to improve, and that members are assured that their contributions are delivering intended results.
Agency staff and health
I expect ANSTO to continue being a collaborator, partner and employer of choice by providing a workplace environment, culture and opportunities that will attract and retain the very best talent. I also expect ANSTO to continue to promote a safe and positive working environment, including through responding to its health and safety obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
It is critical that ANSTO maintain the highest of safety standards across the organisation, and that the Board maintain safety as a fundamental priority for the leadership of the organisation.
I expect and trust that ANSTO has effective arrangements in place to ensure that its activities minimise potential risks to ANSTO itself, its staff, the community and the environment, and to comply with relevant legislative and regulatory obligations.
Communication of ANSTO’s science and research
I expect that ANSTO will continue to raise community awareness of its activities and communicate its research and technical knowledge and health, industry and environmental outcomes.
Working with my department and office
I look forward to ANSTO working closely with my department. Aside from regular meetings between you and me, I ask that you keep me informed of significant issues relating to the work health and culture of the organisation. Your timely and accurate advice to my department and office is essential in allowing me to communicate ANSTO’s important work.
To this end, I expect that ANSTO will discuss ministerial briefings and correspondence with the relevant areas of my office and my department, and provide copies in parallel. Further, I expect ANSTO to provide prior notice, to my office and my department, of significant announcements and events that are likely to attract media attention.
I look forward to continuing to work with you on these important areas that will advance nuclear science and its benefits in Australia, and to receiving your response outlining how the Board proposes to deliver on these priorities.