Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Governments, although increasingly faced with decision-making on matters which involve a significant technical content, appear illequipped to cope with this and have come to rely on advice from experts. The establishment-fQjl the Australian National Animal Health Laboratory provides an example of technology decision-making by governments, using expert advisors. A number of investigations into ANAHL were carried out from 1964 and these led to a Parliamentary Public Works Committee Inquiry in 1974. The technical nature of the proposal allowed the decision making to be defined as scientific, however, it is argued that the institutions - committed to the establishment of ANAHL and their perceptions and definitions of need and their value judgements determined the nature of the decisions reached. Furthermore it is argued that these decisions had been made prior to the PWC Inquiry and that its purpose was to legitimate these decisions. As a result of controversy, shifts of emphasis and changes in the arguments justifying ANAHL were made by the proponents. This, however, served to highlight the uncertainties and value-judgements in the arguments and eventually led to a questioning of the credibility of the decision-making institutions and the proponents of ANAHL.