Budget 2019–20 — lacking 'clever country' ambition

Wednesday, 03 April, 2019

Budget 2019–20 — lacking 'clever country' ambition

The Morrison Government has delivered a pre-election 2019 Federal Budget designed with many tax incentives for individuals but how will it will impact science and research?

Major science measures include: $56.4 million over three years to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, $25 million over four years for a coasts, environment and climate science research and education centre at Point Nepean, $19.5 million over four years to establish a Space Infrastructure Fund, $15.1 million over three years to expand Questacon’s education and outreach activities, and $3.4 million over four years to support women in STEM. "The Government’s investment in CSIRO across this period remains consistent with previous levels, increasing by over $6m in line with indexation," said Huw Morgan at CSIRO.

At the same time there have been significant cuts including $345 million to university research funding and cuts of $6.73m to ARC research funding.

Professor Emma Johnston AO, President of Science & Technology Australia, said: “A failure to keep pace with inflation for most national research agencies is a stark concern for the science and technology sector.

“What we did not see in this budget was an ambition to be the clever country in all fields. A Fund to support the translation and commercialisation of knowledge built through non-medical science research programs would complement the MRFF and amplify the economic returns that STEM brings for Australia.”

While many are pleased with the range of initiatives and extra funding support for women in STEM, some questioned why the expected $7.1 billion surplus was not put to better use in research and development. Catriona Jackson, Chief Executive of Universities Australia, said “… the government has missed a prime opportunity to reverse its previous $2.1 billion freeze on student places and $328 million cuts to university research.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/koya979

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