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News from Science & Technology Australia - UNIVERSITIES ACCORD AN EPIC FAIL ON RESEARCH

19 Jul 2023 2:47 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

The Universities Accord interim report has disastrously missed an historic moment to recommend a ramp up of Australia’s research investment, consigning Australia to be out-muscled by our economic rivals in the global race to seize new jobs, industries and national income.

The interim report “squanders a once-in-a-generation chance” to recommend the Australian Government immediately start a visionary scale-up of Australia’s R&D strength to drive stronger job creation and diversify our economy as one of its five immediate priority actions.

The nation’s peak body for science and technology urged the Accord Panel to move swiftly to make bolder recommendations on research investment in its final report to avert a “calamitous own goal that will lose current talent and erode future Australian jobs, income and living standards”.  

It had already missed the opportunity to do so in the current Budget cycle, with the Panel’s final report due in December. New spending proposals for the May Budget typically close in September/October.

The latest official data, published at the end of May, shows Australia’s Government investment in R&D has plunged to its lowest level as a share of our economy since 1978.

Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert said the peak body would urgently convene research sector stakeholders for emergency talks to ensure the panel understood the gravity of the cost to Australia of missing the mark on research investment.

"The Accord must seize a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the panel to recommend the Government confirm both a bold target and a timetable to start to scale up Australia’s R&D investment - and to start that scale-up from this year’s Budget cycle."

"The Accord’s interim report has spectacularly missed the mark on research investment - that’s an epic fail. It squibs a once in a generation chance to set our nation on the path to prosperity by stepping up our investment in being first to bold breakthroughs. The final report must fix this fatal flaw."

“The final report should enshrine an ambitious target for Australia’s R&D investment - mirroring the 3% of GDP target the Australian Labor Party promised the Australian people before the last election - and recommend a plan and timetable to achieve it.”

"Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called for Australia’s economy to be "powered by science". He’s right to do so. Only with stronger investment in research can science tackle the challenges the future will throw at us - from climate change to the next global pandemic. This interim report fails to chart a path to the PM’s vision."

"The report poses more questions than it attempts to answer. And waiting six months for the final report means any funding measures recommended will miss the cut-off for inclusion in the next Federal Budget."

“As a longstanding champion of equity and diversity, we support the proposals to expand access for equity groups and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

About Science & Technology Australia
Science & Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 115,000 scientists and technologists. We’re the leading policy voice on science and technology. Our  flagship programs include Science Meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors. 

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