Two organizations support most of Australian government research and development. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), headquartered in Melbourne and founded in 1926, is an independent government agency that supports research and development in all fields of the physical and biological sciences except defense science, nuclear energy, and clinical medicine. The Defense Science and Technology Organization (DSTO), headquartered in Canberra, supports military research and development by providing scientific and technological assistance to the Australian Defence Force and Department of Defence.
Several issues dominate current Australian science and technology policy: the concentration of research and development in national research centers; tensions among and between university researchers over allocation of research and development funding resources; effective communication between industry, government, and university researchers; the growing role which industry is playing in support of national research and development; and the role which Australia is playing in international science and technology collaboration. High-technology exports totaled $1.5 million in 1998.
Government funds about 55% of all research and development and industry about 40%. In 1996, there were 73 agricultural, medical, scientific, and technical professional associations and societies, the foremost of which is the Australian Academy of Science, founded in 1954 by royal charter. The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering was founded in 1976. The Australian Science and Technology Council (ASTEC) provides an independent source of counsel for the Australian Prime Minister; it's role was augmented in 1986 by the creation of a post for a Minister Assisting the Prime Minister with portfolio for science and technology.
In 1996, Australia had 36 universities offering courses in basic and applied science. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 24% of college and university enrollments. The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, the largest museum complex in Australia, has 25 exhibitions in the areas of science, technology, social history, and decorative arts.