Mid-year Budget update—mixed signals for science sector

December 17, 2018

The Academy welcomes the appointment of six new board members to the National Science and Technology Council today including four Academy Fellows: Professors Barbara Howlett FAA, Geordie Williamson FAA, Brian Schmidt FAA and Ian Frazer FAA.

The Academy looks forward to the first meeting of the National Science and Technology Council in the new year.

The Government’s mid-year Budget update has mixed signals for science sector.

President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine, said while it is encouraging to see a funding injection for regional universities, it is unfortunate that this has been achieved by reducing the University Research Block Grants scheme.

“The Academy notes that research and development funding are in decline and at the lowest levels in 40 years. Economic growth and prosperity will not be achieved by cutting research, a driver of the knowledge economy,” Professor Shine said.

The Academy also expressed its disappointment at the absence of funding to support the national rollout of Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE), a proven national initiative to support gender equity in higher education and research. SAGE is a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

Professor Shine said the gender equity measure is the only initiative of its kind that has had a proven impact on a systemic and national scale in Australia.

“Australia has taken a leadership role by piloting the Athena SWAN Charter program, with countries such as Canada and the United States now following our example. The Australian Government’s continued support of this pilot would position Australia well and allow the successful pilot to expand into a full national program,” Professor Shine said.

The Academy looks forward to both these important measures being addressed in April’s Federal Budget. See the Academy’s other science priorities for the 2019 federal election.

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