Budget fails modern economy test

Sunday, 27 May, 2001

Australia's peak body for science and technology expressed disappointment in the Budget.

Dr David Denham, Vice-President of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS), said the Government needed to take every opportunity to build upon the measures it announced earlier this year in the innovation statement.

"The science community welcomed Backing Australia's Ability, but as a first step, the beginning of a process," Dr Denham said. "It was a partial solution to the issue of how Australia should invest in our national future."

"This Budget needed to deal with the outstanding issues, like the funding of our university system and CSIRO. At first glance, the Budget has failed to do so."

"Science and research are too important to be decided in the hurly-burly of daily politics. We face the constant danger of the important issues being swamped by urgent but less important matters."

Dr Denham said that Australia is well below the average OECD investment in R&D, and trending downwards.

The average spend in this area by the world's leading economies is just over two percent of GDP, where Australia is currently spending about 1.5 per cent. It is measured by GERD (Gross Expenditure on R&D) as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

"To reach this target, the Federal Government would have to make an announcement of the size of Backing Australia's Ability ($2.9 billion) every year for the next four years," he said.

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