A Terrible Set Of Numbers

Thursday, 07 September, 2000

New figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that Australia's expenditure on Research and Development slumped 10% against GDP in the two-year period from 1996-97 to 1998-99. These were the worst results in an international comparison of 17 OECD countries.

Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) is back to levels last experienced in Australia in the early 1990s. Australia ranked sixth last internationally. Each of the countries below Australia improved national investment in R&D.

Japan, Finland and the US all spend twice as much as Australia. Every country in western Europe, from the minnows to the giants of the industrial world, are spending more on R&D. The only exception is Spain, but even Spain has increased spending by 10% whereas Australian spending fell by that amount.

The Batterham Report and the Report of the Innovation Summit Implementation Group offer a major opportunity for the Government to reverse a decline into economic irrelevance.

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