Science and research in the federal Budget

Science largely flew under the radar in a restrained Federal Budget released on 9 May, with no big spending measures and no major cuts apart from previously-announced university funding changes.

An astronomy partnership with the European Southern Observatory will receive support of $26 million, ensuring Australia’s involvement in major astronomy initiatives around the world. Funding for advanced manufacturing will arrive under the CRC program, and the first real investments will start to flow from the Medical Research Future Fund.

The Academy also welcomes:

  • investment in new medical research and treatment facilities, with $68 million invested in South Australia to develop the first Proton Beam facility in the Southern Hemisphere
  • increased support for women to enter high-skilled STEM professions through the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute internship program
  • the commitment of $49.8m over 11 years to ensure year-round operation of the research facilities on Australia’s sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island which lies between Tasmania and Antarctica
  • funding of $14.3m over three years to establish a whole-of-government educational data framework that will allow better understanding of educational pathways and program efficacy in STEM as well as other disciplines
  • a small increase in funding for Geoscience Australia, with a particular focus on realising the opportunities presented by satellite and other geographical data.

However, the Budget didn’t include any of the recommendations of the Ferris-Finkel-Fraser review of the R&D Tax Incentives, particularly those which may have strengthened the engagement between research organisations and industry.

There will be small decreases in indexation of funding across the forward estimates equating to savings of several million dollars per annum in agencies such as ANSTO, CSIRO and funding programs such as the ARC and NHMRC. 

More investment could have also been made in a vision for future jobs and economic prosperity, driven by a world class STEM capability.

Read the Academy's Budget media release

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