Submission to the Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into Australia's Innovation System

With support from the Opposition, the Australian Greens and independent Senators, a Senate inquiry into Australia’s Innovation System was established earlier this year. Fellows were asked for their views to help the Academy develop a submission to this wide-ranging inquiry.

The Academy’s submission makes several key points, including the need to invest in education and skills to attract innovation investment; that cultural change within the research and innovation system combined with a positive business environment are needed to boost research commercialisation within Australia; and that a long-term financial commitment to building and operating national research infrastructure is needed if Australia is to get the most from its past substantial investments, and if it is to continue to undertake world-leading science. The Academy’s submission also highlighted the need for future research workforce planning and strategic support for international science collaboration to ensure maximum returns can be gained from Australia’s research investment.

Response to the Establishment of the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme Discussion Paper

The 2014–15 federal budget saw the Government reduce support for industry-related research and innovation by dismantling a number of support programs, winding back funding for others, and reducing funding to key science agencies. One of the few new policy initiatives that could have partially helped to offset some of the impact of these funding cuts was the announcement to establish an Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme. However, in its response to a discussion paper on the establishment of this program, the Academy outlines its concerns that the development of the program is being rushed and has not been sufficiently developed in collaboration with stakeholders, potentially representing a lost opportunity.

Submission to the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group

The Academy’s submission focuses on the importance of preparation and professional learning for science teachers, and supports the well-accepted principle that teachers are the key to improving student learning. A key emphasis is the need for initial teacher education to focus on enhancing a teacher’s ability to engage, enthuse and excite students in their learning so that students will want to learn more about science and the world in which we live.

Submission to the Australian Research Council on Funding Rule Changes

The Academy was invited to comment on a number of proposed changes to the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Program. The Academy expressed strong reservations about some of the proposed changes, particularly with regard to future eligibility for the Future Fellowship program, and especially the proposal to exclude researchers in continuing positions from applying for a fellowship.

Submission to the Review of the Bureau of Meteorology’s Space Weather Services

The Academy’s submission highlights the wide range of services provided by the Bureau of Meteorology that are of strategic importance for Australia. In particular the Academy makes the point that the Bureau’s Space Weather Services provides a vital service and research platform that needs to be continued, and supported at a level commensurate with the expected growth in demand for its services. The Academy argues that any moves to reduce the functions of the Bureau’s Space Weather Services, or to increase cost recovery, could be counterproductive and detrimental to the national interest.

This submission was developed with the assistance of the National Committees for Space and Radio Science; Antarctic Research; and Earth System Sciences.

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