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Budget 2022: Time to ‘double down’ on our science investment

Science & Technology Australia Media Release

The 2022 Budget should “double down” on Australia’s return-generating investments in science to prepare for new complex challenges after this pandemic, fast-track our economic recovery and smooth the nation’s climate transition.

This would start with boosting direct R&D investments to shift Australia closer to the top-ten OECD countries to seize economic opportunities for our nation.

The first major stride towards that goal would be a $2.4 billion Research Translation Fund to secure Australia’s science future and generate strong returns on investment.

In its pre-Budget submission, Science & Technology Australia proposes the fund and other strategic investments to safeguard our economy, build on the country’s outstanding science capability, respond to threats, and seize new income-generating opportunities.

“Australia should use the next federal Budget to fund science like our lives and our economy depend on it – because they do,” said Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert.

“We should heed the lessons of the pandemic and ‘double down’ on our investments in science to see off major threats and seize new economic opportunities for Australia.”

“As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been clearer that Australia needs the deep expertise of scientists to navigate this historic challenge – and many others.”

“Science has given us diagnostic testing, respirators, medical equipment, epidemiological expertise, and – crucially – life-saving vaccines.”

“Those vaccines have saved lives from COVID-19, and could open the door to a host of potential new vaccines against cancers – and create tens of thousands of Australian jobs.”

Science & Technology Australia President Professor Mark Hutchinson urged the Government to use the 2022 Budget to safeguard the future of our science talent, institutions, and infrastructure.

“The lessons of the past few years are clear. We must invest deeply in science and scientists. The success of science is crucial to our safety.”

“Now is the time to secure the next-generation science capabilities we need to face the next set of complex challenges that will confront our country.”

The pre-Budget submission sets out fiscally responsible initiatives to deliver strong returns on investment to both tax revenue and the economy. They include:

  1. Boost direct R&D investment to shift Australia closer towards investment levels in the top ten OECD countries;
  2. Create a new $2.4 billion Research Translation Fund to turn more of Australia’s science into applications that will generate returns on investment;
  3. Safeguard the next wave of science breakthroughs by lifting ARC and NHMRC research grants budgets to $1 billion/year for each agency;
  4. Secure the future of science and research infrastructure with long-term funding certainty for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy;
  5. Deepen investment in climate science and low-emission technologies, including extending the proposed Patent Box initiative to include clean energy tech;
  6. Avert a disastrous exodus of science talent by shifting to longer-term grants, employing researchers on longer-term contracts, adopting fixed timelines for grant applications and announcements, and slashing red tape in grant applications;
  7. Invest $3 million in an STA Bench to Boardroom program to turbo charge training for scientists to pursue commercialisation;
  8. Access Australia’s full STEM talent pool by investing $2.3 million to advance women in STEM through STA’s groundbreaking Superstars of STEM program; and $4 million to establish an Indigenous STEM Network;
  9. A $2.3 million endowment to secure Science meets Parliament for the decade; and
  10. Resource the promised review of the Job-Ready Graduates legislation and top up funding for STEM degrees if they have fallen under the new model.

Science & Technology Australia is the peak body for the nation’s STEM sector, representing more than 90,000 scientists and technologists.

Read Science & Technology Australia’s pre-budget submission here.

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7 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    Hear, hear, and all possible support, for tertiary areas of education and appropriate support and development are our real needs. No tanks or subs wanted or needed.., not while our people have real needs and a hope for a better future.

  2. GL

    Those are all very good budget proposals but can you really see this self-centred greedy, corrupt, dog botherers, and corporate sycophants doing any of them, because I don’t see it happening.

  3. John Hermann

    Yes, it is something that must occur if this nation is to move forward successfully. However it will not happen under this federal government, or any other governments of its ilk. The Morrison government has no vision or understanding of what is needed. As for their claim to be the better managers of our economy, that absurd assertion would be hilarious if the issues at stake were not so serious. In particular, their incompetence in managing the pandemic has been on display for everyone to see, and it’s not a pretty picture.

  4. RosemaryJ36

    The trouble is that there is more money in being a barrister than in scientific research.

  5. Michael Taylor

    Rosemary, in 2013 my daughter was nearing the end of her PhD in molecular biology.

    There was only one obstacle to her completing it: Tony Abbott.

    The election of an Abbott government was quickly followed by the cancelling of all university funding for any program that was closely related to the study of climate change.

  6. New England Cocky

    The message is very clear; NO R&D NO ECONOMIC FUTURE.

    Little Johnnie Howard started the anti-Science Movement by removing $1 BILLION from Australian science research funding in 1996 and distributing it to ten (10) American scientific research corporations, that the sub-contracted the research to Australian laboratories for $100,000 and pocketed the residual. Nothing has improved in scientific research funding since this time, a financial drought of 25 years.

    Australia has a proud 150+ year history of innovation based on research in agriculture and most scientific fields that has been trashed by COALition misgovernments bending over for foreign owned multinational corporations.

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