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Thursday, August 12, 1999 Published at 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK


Australians more interested in science than sport

Sports coverage gets more space than science

By BBC News Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse

Forget cricket, rugby and surfing, it is science that interests Australians according to a new survey.

A national opinion poll carried out for the Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation (CSIRO) says that Australians cannot get enough science - especially if they are women.

It also says that their interest is not reflected in the news media in terms of the issues that will affect their lives in the coming century. Over 80% of those questioned said they were very interested in science, 67% said they were interested in sport and 63% said they were interested in politics.

The poll found that, among Australian women, the interest in Science over sport is greater still. CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Malcolm McIntosh said the poll is the third in five years to identify the strong interest held by Australians in science.

Quantity and depth

"And we are aware of other polls recording similar findings throughout the 1990s, including some done by the media itself," he said.

"Yet, Australian media coverage of sport and politics continues to far outweigh, in both quantity and depth, the coverage of the issues that are at the root of our national development and fortunes in the 21st century."

The importance of science was highlighted by Australian Nobel laureate Dr Peter Doherty and Dr McIntosh in a briefing to members of the Federal Parliament in Canberra. Dr Doherty said that the 21st Century would be the century of science and ideas dedicated to improving the human condition.

"This demand for more information about science is an essential part of building the Australian culture for the 21st Century," he added.

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