How did science feature in the Budget? Australia's leading scientists respond

May 11, 2021

The Australian Academy of Science says the 2021–22 Federal Budget contains mixed news for science.

Academy President Professor John Shine says it is important for Australia’s future to ensure we have strong investment in basic research to be able to translate discoveries.

The Budget contains no significant new funding for fundamental discovery science and no initiatives to stem the loss of university science jobs.

“The Academy welcomes the commitment to develop an Australian mRNA manufacturing capability to fight COVID-19, the flu and future pandemics,” Professor Shine said.

“The Academy is pleased the Government has heeded our advice to future-proof Australia with the development of such a capability.

“Developing the capability will allow Australia to build resilience to future pandemics and potential biosecurity threats that require us to have the onshore capacity to mass produce vaccines.

“The Academy’s mid-term review of the 10-year plan for astronomy published last year recommended Australia pursue realisation of the full SKA Observatory. We are pleased the Government has honoured its commitment to this by providing $387.2 million over ten years,” he said.

The Academy also welcomes Budget measures including:

  • A 10-year investment to support the implementation of the Technology Investment Roadmap and Low Emissions Technology Statements including $761.8 million over the forward estimates. These initiatives are welcome, however, remaining paramount are greater global efforts to further limit greenhouse gas emissions and Australia’s further participation in that effort.
  • A range of measures to improve climate adaptation, including investments to stimulate the blue economy; support for a National Soils Strategy; support for biodiversity on agricultural lands; funding to establish an independent statutory Environment Assurance Commissioner; extension of recycling initiatives; and funding to establish the Australian Climate Service.
  • $42.4 million to co-fund scholarships for women in STEM in partnership with industry.
  • $10.4 million for medical research including support for more clinical trials in Australia and to introduce mitochondrial donation into research settings.
  • The patent box initiative to encourage innovation in the medical and biotech sectors.

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