Steady science budget shows lack of inspiration
10 May 2011
The Australian Academy of Science today welcomed the Government's decision to protect science research funding in the 2011 Federal Budget but said it was disappointed there will be no increase in the research budget and no ongoing support for scientists to collaborate internationally.
"The Academy is pleased that proposed funding cuts for medical and other research have not occurred," said Academy Secretary for Science Policy, Professor Bob Williamson.
"But far more could be done to secure a prosperous and technologically advanced future for Australia.
"Scientific research is our nation's guarantee that we can remain productive and economically secure. By protecting its existing investment in research, the Government has shown that it has vision for Australia's future prosperity.
"However, Australia has weathered the global financial crisis exceedingly well, and in this climate we had hoped the Government would support its key researchers with an increased commitment to domestic research and international collaboration.
Although most research funding has been maintained in the Federal Budget, key science agencies have lost ground, including Geoscience Australia, as have Collaborative Research Networks and Cooperative Research Centres.
"The Academy has called on the Government to increase research funding to at least three per cent of GDP by 2020, in line with OECD best practice," Professor Williamson said.
The Academy welcomed the Government's previously announced investment in building scientific collaborations with China and India.
"It is good that we are building these relationships but it is extremely disappointing that valuable programs with other long-term international partners in Japan and Europe are in jeopardy with the imminent demise of the Government's International Science Linkages program," Professor Williamson said.
The Academy welcomes the Budget commitment to adult education and remains hopeful that the Government will recognise the importance of building scientific literacy and numeracy by supporting school science and maths education.
"Although not specifically mentioned in the Budget, we hope the Government continues to support the Academy's two highly effective independently-assessed primary and high school science education programs," Professor Williamson said.
"The Academy is committed to these important programs and is willing to continue to seek alternative sources of funding for both Primary Connections and Science by Doing."
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