March 22, 2017

National Science Statement, a commitment for the future

The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) welcomes the release of the National Science Statement, which sets out the Government’s commitment to support Australia’s scientists and their work over the coming decade.

The challenge ahead is to make good the Statement through effective, long-term Government programs supporting research across all Australia.

Through the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) the Government set out many good initiatives, most of which are now in place. It now needs to address the next set of issues to give life to the Statement’s ambitions.

The priority of these is funding for the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap. The signature NISA investment to support existing National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) facilities does not provide for new research infrastructure. The remnant $3.7 billion in the Education Investment Fund (EIF), should be earmarked for this.

The government should also adopt an intentionally national approach to the distribution of research infrastructure and innovation programs. This will help create regional research systems across Australia fulfilling the potential of the breadth of the country and reducing pressure on living in the major cities.

The Government should respond positively to the Finkel, Ferris, Fraser proposals to improve the Research and Development Tax Incentive, particularly the premium of up to 20 percent for research undertaken with universities and other publicly-funded research organisations.

Together with the leadership from Innovation and Science Australia and the thoughtful targeting of the Medical Research Future Fund, addressing these major issues will enhance Australia’s future well-being.