Thirty years overdue—R&D strategic examination a once-in-a-generation opportunity for structural reform

May 14, 2024

The Australian Academy of Science applauds the Australian Government’s commitment to a strategic examination of Australia’s research and development (R&D) system announced in the Federal Budget tonight.

Academy President, Professor Chennupati Jagadish, said the strategic examination is a welcome acknowledgement by the government that a stronger, more resilient nation cannot be built with a stagnant, siloed and atomised R&D system based on decades-old settings way past their use-by date.

“The Academy has been arguing the case for this long-overdue whole-of-sector analysis since 2018,” Professor Jagadish said.

“It is a necessary precursor to the creation of a strategic roadmap that can direct R&D in Australia and reverse the 14-year decline in investment that has left Australia well below the OECD average, uncompetitive and ill-equipped to meet our national ambitions.

Investment in Australia’s science and research system is currently spread over 227 programs and 15 federal portfolios, with multiple ministers and departments having key responsibilities.

“A strategic examination of Australia’s R&D system is the first step to align national effort across the whole of government, industry, universities and philanthropy to create an environment where investment is effective, strategic and scaled."

“The examination is cross-portfolio and cross-sectoral and is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create the necessary conditions for science and research to maximise its contribution to our national prosperity.

“The Academy looks forward to working closely with the government as it undertakes this important strategic examination,” Professor Jagadish said.

The Academy earlier this month announced it is developing a 10-year plan to explore ways to ensure that Australia has the necessary scientific capability to meet an unpredictable future and consider how science needs to evolve to advance Australian interests locally and globally.

“The Academy’s 10-year plan, to be published later this year, will be a complementary and independent input into the strategic examination announced in the Budget,” Professor Jagadish said.

Federal Budget 2024–25 science and research snapshot

The Academy has published an interactive data report that provides a snapshot of the Australian Government’s science and research expenditure estimated in the Federal Budget. You can read about how science and research featured in the Federal Budget here.

© 2024 Australian Academy of Science