The nation's scientists have called on politicians to stop undermining science, singling out an inquiry set up by the Greens into the impact of seismic testing on sea life and another from the Nationals on run-off into the Great Barrier Reef.
The Australian Academy of Science said it had concerns about the inquiries.
"Government and parliament should champion science, not act to undermine it," policy director Christopher Anderson said in a submission to a Senate inquiry into the state of democracy.
"Recent inquiries set up in the Senate into the science of the Great Barrier Reef and seismic testing are of concern to the academy. The benefits to the nation of science and the advancement of knowledge are best served by a culture where researchers can put forward views and present data for discussion and scrutiny free from interference and without fear of reprisal.
"... The committee should reject propositions that argue for the establishment of some form of political body to check the validity of scientific findings or calls to audit science that impacts on contentious areas of public policy.
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The seismic testing inquiry was set up by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson who was taken aback at the academy's criticism and said he would invite the group to appear.
The inquiry was not designed to second-guess the science but to look at why there had been so little science done on the impact of seismic testing for oil and gas on marine life, he said.
While the oil and gas industry insisted seismic testing was fine, the fishing industry had grave concerns.
"If they have got any concerns that the Senate is somehow going to be derailing the science in the case of the seismic inquiry, it's the opposite, " he said. "We're looking at why there is so little science in such an important area ... I hope they would understand the spirit in which we have engaged in this."
This government is at war with science, and the reef is going to suffer for it, as will the 64,000 people whose jobs rely on the reef ...Greens Senator Larissa Waters
Senator Whish-Wilson said he had been calling for research into the impact of seismic testing since he entered the Senate in 2012 after snapper fishers had raised concerns. The Australian Institute of Marine Science had finally been funded in 2017 to do research which he hoped would be released in time to feed into the inquiry.
Also in September, the Senate set up an inquiry into run-off into the Great Barrier Reef, this one pushed by the Nationals in response to the Queensland Labor governments move to limit run-off from farmers.
The inquiry will look at evidence that farm run-off is harming the reef and the impact of Labor's changes on farm productivity.
Greens Senator Larissa Waters blasted the inquiry as "like considering whether smoking causes lung cancer or whether the earth is round".
"The evidence is strong, the science robust, the conclusions drawn from the science are sound," she told the Senate. "This government is at war with science, and the reef is going to suffer for it, as will the 64,000 people whose jobs rely on the reef ...
"This inquiry would be a complete waste of the parliament's time, because the science is crystal clear and scientifically illiterate politicians should not adjudicate on peer-reviewed science."
One Nation supported the inquiry, with Senator Malcolm Roberts lauding the work of James Cook University marine scientist Peter Ridd, who has reportedly been appearing at farmers' protests and arguing that run-off is doing very little damage.
Senator Roberts said Dr Ridd had shown "enormous courage and integrity" in the face of bills that "will smash the agricultural sector".
In its submission to the Senate's broad-ranging "nationhood" and democracy inquiry, the Academy of Science called for a new Australian parliamentary office of science and technology to provide "dispassionate, impartial and bipartisan advice" on science and technology to MPs and Senators, modelled on overseas offices such as in Britain.
Government spending on research had fallen from 0.41 per cent of gross domestic product in 1992-93 to 0.19 per cent in 2016-17 - keeping pace with inflation but no more. The spending was in contrast to sustained increases in countries such as the US, China and Korea, the group said.
"It also reflects a shift away from support for public good research - the patient capital that supports research in the pursuit of knowledge or research that will create an environment for the inspired risk-taking that is essential to technological discovery.
"In other words, there is a transfer of emphasis towards using intellectual capital and away from generating it. The long-term public interest is not well served by this approach."
Trust that science would lead to a better future was on the wane, with people increasingly anxious about the impact of science and technology on jobs including a widespread belief that robots and computers would take over human work.
A "jobs apocalypse" was not inevitable, the group said. While the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia estimated in 2015 that 40 per cent of jobs were at risk, University of Melbourne research had since found that informational technology had not reduced the amount of work available and the pace of change had not accelerated.