Science & Technology Australia


2017/18 Federal Budget Bulletin, 11 May 2017

Good afternoon,

STA was part of the Federal Budget lockup earlier this week, where we found no major shake-ups for science and technology. Most of the significant changes were linked to other portfolios, including road and rail infrastructure, education, housing, and taxes.

There was no allocation made in the Budget for major research infrastructure capital funding: the Government has signalled it will wait to make an announcement when it publishes the final National Research Infrastructure Roadmap. We expect this announcement very soon and will be watching keenly to ensure there is a plan to replace the Education Infrastructure Fund and to support vital upgrades and new works for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme.

Likewise, there was no detail regarding potential changes to the application of the Research & Development Tax Incentive. The Incentive has been provided for in the forward estimates and we look forward to hearing how the Government will respond to the Ferris/Finkel/Fraser Review.

Meanwhile, the foreshadowed cuts to the higher education sector will almost certainly impact upon research conducted by universities, as might the new levy to be imposed on employers of foreign workers.

While many aspects of the science and technology Budget were ‘business as usual’, we were pleased to see some wins for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

One of the most significant was the announcement of an astronomy partnership with the European Southern Observatory. This is has been hard-fought by the astronomy community for many years and will enable Australia’s access to leading technology and participation and collaboration in important international research and translation opportunities.

We were also heartened by the investment in a new proton beam facility in South Australia, which will operate as both a treatment and a research facility, and by the strong new investment in researching and developing advanced manufacturing technology – including the creation of a new Cooperative Research Centre. There’s also a new commitment to improved modelling and forecasting of Australia’s future energy needs, through the CSIRO.

The new funding for CSIRO was somewhat shadowed by an efficiency dividend for CSIRO’s operations (we’re told this will not directly affect research at the national agency). Other Government agencies have similarly had the efficiency dividend apply. There have been no changes to the Australian Research Council’s funding to account for inflation, which equates to a fall in the money they can provide for research in real terms. The National Health and Medical Research Council is in the same situation.

Congratulations to STA member the Australian Mathematical Science Institutes (AMSI), which will receive a massive boost to its important PhD internship program. The expansion will give more postgraduate students the opportunity to apply their research skills within an industry or policy-making context, and more on this program can be found on the AMSI website.

Responses to the Budget have been mixed within the sector, with it being described as a “fresh start” for the Treasurer, “underwhelming” for innovation, “strongly welcomed by the health and medical research sector“, and “restrained” with science “flying under the radar“.

For our full response read our media release from the Budget Lockup, or you can access the full Budget papers at Individual portfolio budget breakdowns can be found here.

Keep an eye out too, as we hope to provide updates on the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap and R&D Tax Incentive over the coming week and months.

Kind regards,
Kylie Walker


STA Media Release on the 2017-18 Budget – 09 May 2017


The 2017 Federal Budget holds few surprises for science and technology and has left the sector waiting for further announcements on major reviews and roadmaps, Science & Technology Australia said today.

“We welcome strong new investment in researching and developing new advanced manufacturing technology, including a $20 million injection into the important Cooperative Research Centres program,” STA CEO Kylie Walker said following the release of the Budget.

“We also welcome a boost to Australia’s astronomy research program, which will ensure Australia is poised to better collaborate and participate in important international research, the creation of a new proton beam facility, and reassurance that our Antarctic scientists will continue to be able to access the research facility on Macquarie Island.

“But it’s disappointing that after recent cuts and a two-year salary freeze, our biggest national research agency, CSIRO, will be subject to an efficiency dividend. Though small, this represents a continued erosion of their corporate budget in real terms.

“At the same time, its good to see an extra allocation to support better forecasting for Australia’s energy needs.

“We’re also disappointed that the Australian Research Council (ARC) funding won’t keep pace with inflation, meaning grant allocations will fall in real terms.”

While the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) budget also slipped slightly, the promised Medical Research Futures Fund (MRFF) will begin disbursements in the coming year of $65.9 million for preventative health research and translation, advanced health translation centres, clinical trials and breakthrough research investments.

The Budget included no allocations for capital expenditure on major national research infrastructure.
“We hope the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap will be released soon, along with plans to achieve its recommendations,” Ms Walker said.

“We also look forward to learning of how the Government will respond to the recommendations made in the review of the R&D Tax Incentive.”

Science and technology Budget wins:

  • $100m to establish the Advanced Manufacturing Fund to boost innovation, skills and employment through a growth fund and centre, a Cooperative Research Centre, innovation labs.
  • $26.1m for astronomy through a strategic partnership with the European Southern Observatory (astronomical research and instrumentation) – ongoing annual indexed commitment of $12m to 2027-28
  • $7m increase in Business Research and Innovation Initiative
  • AMSI internships program supported as promised in MYEFO
  • MRFF starting disbursements as expected with $65.9 million in year one for preventative health, advanced health translation, clinical trials and breakthrough research investments
  • SA Proton beam facility as announced yesterday $60m
  • $115 million for mental health research and services
  • $49.8 million to operate and enable access to the Macquarie Island Antarctic research facility
  • CSIRO – $13.4 million over 5 years for energy use modelling and forecasting

Science and technology Budget Losses:

  • CSIRO – efficiency dividend
  • Higher education cuts – 2.5% efficiency dividend to universities (as foreshadowed)
  • ARC – will fall behind inflation in forward years so its funding will go backwards in real terms
  • NHMRC – will fall behind slightly in forward years
Media contact: Dion Pretorius  |  [email protected]  |  0418281777

The STA May Newsletter can be viewed here.

Superstars of STEM

Superstars of STEM will smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM.

STA will work with 30 of the nation’s most dynamic scientists and technologists to create role models for young women and girls, and work towards equal representation in the media of men and women in STEM.

We’ll equip the Superstars with advanced communication skills and provide them with the opportunities to use them – in the media, on the stage, and in speaking with decision-makers.

The program will also connect participants through a mentoring network, to encourage them to learn from women who have crafted a profile for themselves and who already serve as role models.

We invite women from all STEM disciplines to apply, in fields including but not restricted to mathematics, technology, biology, medical research, geology, marine science, microbiology, engineering, physics, astronomy, and more.

About the program:

Science & Technology Australia is now accepting applications for the inaugural Superstars of STEM program. The program strives to:

  • Support 30 women employed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to become highly visible public role models;
  • Build the public profile of 30 women employed in STEM through training in public speaking, media and communicating with influence and through creating opportunities to practice their newly acquired skills; and
  • Directly encourage young women and girls to study and stay in STEM, by program participants speaking with them in their schools and workplaces and by providing prominent public role models for them to aspire to.

Applications to join the program have opened and close on 23 May 2017.

For more information please click here or go to



Science & Technology Australia was pleased to welcome members to Canberra last Friday for our AGM, including elections for a number of key positions on the STA Executive Committee. We are pleased to announce the following successful candidates:


President-elect                       Professor Emma Johnston               Professor Johnston will become President from November 2017)

Vice President                        Dr Jeremy Brownlie                         Outgoing Secretary, Dr Brownlie was elected by the Board against a strong field after Professor Johnston vacated the Vice President role

Secretary                                Dr Darren Saunders

Policy Chair                           Dr Cathy Foley                                             

ECR Representative Dr Alan Duffy                                                          


They join the following continuing members of the Executive Committee:


President                                Professor Jim Piper

Treasurer                               Stephen Horn

ECR Representative Dr Francine Marques



Robyn Porter has stepped down as Policy Chair. Jamie Vandenberg has stepped down as Ordinary Member. We farewell them and thank them for their service – their enthusiasm and commitment to STA have been invaluable.


The outstanding calibre of candidates and the broad interest in running for these positions speaks highly of STA’s reputation and growing impact, and is a strong indication of our ongoing ability to advocate strongly on behalf of our members and the science and technology sectors more generally. We thank all those who ran for a position on the Executive Committee, and look forward to working with the new team.


Yours Sincerely,


Kylie Walker                                                                                       Professor Jim Piper

Chief Executive Officer                                                                     President


Science & Technology Australia


Pay up, morale down for scientists: national report (21 November 2016)

Job uncertainty, overwork and a loss of skills in the workplace are keeping the morale of Australian scientists low despite an average salary increase in the last 12 months, the 2016 national Professional Scientists Employment and Remuneration Survey has found.


The survey was conducted by Professional Scientists Australia in conjunction with Science & Technology Australia (STA). It shows that in the past year, average remuneration for scientists has increased by 2.4 per cent, outperforming both the Consumer Price Index and general wages growth. However, the gender pay gap persists: women scientists’ average salary packages is 83% of men’s.


“The increase in average wages for scientists underlies the value that they deliver every day to Australia, both in the private sector and in the public research sector, but it is obviously disappointing that we continue to value the work of women scientists below the work of men,” said STA Chief Executive Kylie Walker.


More than one-third of respondents to the survey had received no pay increase in the previous year, and cost cutting paired with uncertainty of funding from year-to-year has created concern about the overall capability of research organisations to continue to do good work. Around one-third of respondents said they were considering leaving their current job, citing pay, lack of professional development opportunities, and lack of work-life balance as contributing factors. More than half of respondents said staff morale had declined in the past 12 months, and 61 per cent said worker fatigue had increased.


“Seven in 10 respondents said cost-cutting is impacting the science capability of their organisation, and around four in 10 said staffing levels are not keeping pace with the workload,” Ms Walker said.


“If Australia is serious about driving innovation, improving wellbeing and shifting towards an R&D-based economy, we must invest properly in science capability – education, specialised equipment and infrastructure, and properly remunerated professional scientists and technologists.


“Many highly skilled researchers see science as a vocation, and are passionate about their work, which is wonderful for Australia. We need to make sure they are supported to direct that passion and those high-level skills and knowledge to the best advantage for research and for Australia.”


STA is the peak group for the nation’s 68,000 scientists and those working in technology. STA’s mission is to bring together scientists, governments, industry and the broader community to advance the role, reputation and impact of science and technology in Australia.


The report is available at

An infographic is attached to this email: media are welcome to reproduce it.


Media comment:        STA CEO                      Kylie Walker   0405 229 152 

                                    STA President             Jim Piper         0417 250 163

21 November 2016 


Science Meets Parliament 2016

SSA Member Nicholas Tierney was lucky enough to be able to attend “Science Meets Parliament” this year. Read Nick’s report here.


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