Bill Shorten tells scientists to 'prepare for a fight'

OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten has urged scientists to get political, during a Science meets Parliament conference which began in Canberra on Monday.

The event, led by Science and Technology Australia, has brought some 200 top scientific and technology minds to the capital with as many as 100 politicians.

STA chief executive Catriona Jackson said the conference was about new "ideas and possibilities", urging the political class and government to work with scientists "to ensure a prosperous future".

"Australians already create three per cent of the world's knowledge with only 0.03 per cent of the world's population. That tells us how much talent that we have," she said.

The conference, which runs for three days, will also hear from a range of decision-makers, and include a National Press Club address from Australia's Chief Scientist Ian Chubb on Tuesday.

Mr Shorten, the first MP to address the conference, called on delegates to "make science a national priority"; alluding to the current government's lack of a Science Minister on the frontbench.

He said the scientific community needed to be "prepared for a fight", saying the climate change debate in Australia was a "cautionary tale" to how science could be misinterpreted.

"I hope these reflections will assist you in capturing the national imagination and the media's attention in the years ahead," Mr Shorten said.

"Australia needs you - it needs you to enter the political debate."