Australian Infrastructure Funds Research Paper

Symbolically, we’ve had ten federal ministers with titular responsibility for science since 2007 – five under the Coalition and five under Labor.We have also had prolonged stints without a named science minister in the federal cabinet, the two most recent being under Malcolm Turnbull in 2017 and Tony Abbott in 2013.To date the Coalition’s campaigning has focused on: We’re yet to see concrete figures from the Coalition for public investment in research and development.

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This framework will not take shape without a champion for science at the decision-making table, someone who can articulate the value of STEM for Australia’s prosperity.

A quick look at Australia’s recent history in STEM strategy is revealing for its variability.

Over the past 30 years, we have struggled to achieve unified, bipartisan support for science and technology in the halls of parliament.

In key areas – such as research infrastructure, application of the research and development tax incentive, and industry growth centres – Labor and the Coalition have often worked at cross purposes.

The most positive step in recent years was the launch of the National Science Statement under Prime Minister Turnbull in 2017.

This signalled intentions to take a holistic government approach to the sector and provide meaningful direction for the years ahead. This is particularly concerning, given the National Innovation and Science Agenda – the current framework for supporting scientific research and development in Australia – will expire in 2019.

Labor’s Budget reply highlighted the need for STEM skills for our future workforce, focused heavily on VET.

It said little about the future of research and development. To set Australia up for a strong future, we believe a minimum investment in research and development of 3% of gross domestic product is required by 2030.

The 2019 budget and budget response were, in effect, election pitches – and both clearly signalled that science and technology are not front of mind for our major parties.

The Coalition promised generous provisions for medical research, but cut support for university research and sought to reassign the A.9 billion education investment fund.


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