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​Labor fails Australian taxpayers on research funding

Liberal Party of Australia

​Labor fails Australian taxpayers on research funding

Australia’s research sector is vital in driving innovation, advancing our economy and building a globally competitive nation, but it must expend taxpayers’ funds in the national interest.

Labor’s proposal to outsource public funding decisions for more than half a billion dollars to an Australian Research Council (ARC) board, unaccountable to the Parliament, is irresponsible.

It is also contrary to our system of parliamentary democracy which ensures that elected representatives are accountable to the Australian people, not untouchable boards or committees.

Without oversight from the minister, there is the risk wasteful or questionable projects, which may involve large travel or other inappropriate costs, will be funded without recourse. This shows how little Labor cares about safeguarding taxpayer funds.

In 2022-23, more than $895 million was delivered through ARC grant programs.

Of the many thousands of ARC research projects, the former Coalition government vetoed just 32 projects.

This is bad policy from a very bad government.

Given Labor will retain control of big-ticket funding programs such as the ‘ARC Centres of Excellence’ involving several hundred million dollars, Jason Clare’s hypocrisy is on full display. What double standards from a minister who has refused to hand over the ribbon cutting and photo opportunities.

Since its election, the Albanese government has shown only contempt for the research sector, cutting $102 million from university research programs in the December MYEFO, with no sign Labor will keep its election promise to increase research funding to 3 per cent of GDP.

The establishment of an ARC board, to be paid from the ARC’s budget, means a direct cut to research of another $1.5 million.

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