BEFORE the election, one could hope the Abbott government's approach to science policy would be pragmatic but fact-based. Now we know it is highly ideological and politically driven.
As a 2008 immigrant with wide science administrative experience overseas, I am well placed to make such an assessment.
Below are striking examples of current governmental folly. I do not count repeal of carbon and mining taxes, since these were "known knowns", as US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld put it.
In his address at the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science, Tony Abbott defended his decision not to have a science minister by saying: "But let me tell you that the United States does not have a secretary for science and no nation on Earth has been as successful and innovative as the United States. I'd say to all of you, please: judge us by our performance, not by our titles."
This is quite disingenuous. The US President's science adviser sits in the Executive Office of the President with legislated status, and the US National Research Council has a statutory obligation to provide scientific advice on a host of matters.
As a Canadian, I was impressed by Australia's scientific progressiveness.
Canada got its first much-needed government science adviser only during a recent Liberal administration and the present Conservative Canadian government immediately downgraded the office.
So we are competing in a race to the bottom.
Prime Minister Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt's climate denialist comments on the recent NSW bushfires are concerning.
Former prime minister John Howard has chosen to reinject himself in the same vein.
With the decision to snub the Warsaw climate talks, there is no denying the denial.
If Mr Hunt or Mr Abbott was told by their doctors that there was a 95 per cent chance they had a terrible disease which only immediate surgery would help, would they then say, "Well, not everyone agrees. I will wait for consensus"?
No other advanced democracy is behaving in nearly such a retrograde manner - though Canada comes close with retroactive withdrawal from Kyoto and their joint decision to block a Commonwealth climate fund. Unlike Australia, and despite the current obstructionist Republican Congress, the US will meet Kyoto targets.
About 1400 job are proposed to be cut at CSIRO. For Canada and Australia, university research and government laboratories are even more important than in the US or the EU.
In addition to statutory obligations, CSIRO has played a leading role in development of Wi-Fi protocols, and has great depth in many research areas, including 200 excellent mathematical scientists who play a vital role in research.
The suggested intrusion into Australian Research Council grant assessment is depressing. It replaces considered and informed judgment with whatever the prejudice of the current government is. Current US Republicans meddling with research funding shows the same troubling desire to oversteer and control the R&D process.
How long before our university and government scientists have to run their commentary past the government before speaking to the public or even publishing research? This has already happened at places such as NASA and at Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Destruction is easy, building is hard. It is striking that NASA has been recalling retired Apollo engineers to come and talk to the current generation as virtually all "institutional knowledge" of the space age has been lost within the agency. Do we want that same kind of loss here?
Removing funding for general research and putting it into specific, targeted areas has a dismal track record. The "war on cancer", "US energy independence"? Even development of successful AIDS treatments or emerging biotech industry owes more to basic research and curious fundamental scientists than to government proclamation.
The death of the great industrial research laboratories (and Nobel producers such as Bell, Westinghouse, and Xerox Park) has only in part been replaced by research at places such as Google.
Wonderful US government labs (like Lawrence Berkeley and Sandia) are no longer pleasant places to do research.
Even world-class researchers in both sectors are subject to quarterly-account analysis and are frequently one contract away from unemployment.
In Australia, hard future needs are being sacrificed to make easy current savings.
But it is not too late for Mr Abbott to reconsider his obligations as steward of a great country.
Jonathan Borwein is laureate professor of mathematics at the University of Newcastle.