Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation
imageFacilities funded under NCRIS, such as the Murchison Widefield Array, will continue to be supported under this budget.Natasha Hurley-Walker/Wikimedia, CC BY

The Conversation’s Budget briefs series aims to answer reader questions about the 2015 federal budget. Thanks to reader @NigelJk for this question.

The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) has won an extra year of funding, worth $150 million, giving greater certainty to researchers working at 27 research facilities across the country.

There’s also $13 million for the Australian Synchrotron – the biggest piece of research infrastructure and our flagship infrastructure internationally.

But this has come at the expense of block funding grants, which support the scientists who conduct their research in NCRIS facilities. Funding research infrastructure by cutting $262.5 million in support for the researchers who use it is nonsensical.

And there’s been no word in the budget for the Future Fellowships program for mid-career researchers, which appears to remain tied to savings measures contained in the Higher Education Reform Bill.

NCRIS reprieve

NCRIS hit the headlines earlier this year over fears that as many as 1,700 highly skilled jobs would be lost in a political battle over funding. But in March, Education Minister Christopher Pyne committed to an additional 12 months of funding for the $150 million program, taking the total amount outlined in this budget to $300 million.

Last week, The Australian reported that the one-year lifeline would be extended to two. The longer-term funding for NCRIS will be announced after a Research Infrastructure Review led by businessman Philip Clark and Chief Scientist Ian Chubb, due out soon.

Back in March, Nobel Laureate and astronomer Brian Schmidt said that while he was grateful for the NCRIS funding reprieve, scientists “certainly need a longer-term cycle” to avoid uncertainty over crucial research.

The government had been threatening to withhold NCRIS funding unless the Senate passed its university deregulation legislation – a negotiating tactic that ended up backfiring.

Having offered a reprieve for NCRIS, the government’s science budget appears to be treading water. There are forecast increases, but these are outweighed by the forecast cuts.

There is an ongoing commitment to establish and fund the Medical Research Future Fund: good news. But there’s no significant news for the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Radioactive waste

Also mentioned in the budget is that Australia’s facilities are running out of room to store radioactive waste. The federal government will spend $22 million over the next three years to bring together existing waste sites and boost storage at Lucas Heights in Sydney.

ANSTO’s current waste-storage facilities are expected to reach full capacity by 2017. Meanwhile we’re due to take back our intermediate-level radioactive waste. The measure will ensure ANSTO can continue to store additional radioactive waste beyond 2017, pending the establishment of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

The measure will provide additional storage capacity for up to 45 cubic metres of intermediate-level waste and 1,200 cubic metres of low-level waste.

Meanwhile the Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) – so very important to the government’s stated aim of encouraging links between science and industry, and of translating research and development into jobs – have had their funding cut by $29.8 million. What will replace them?

Two more positives: the budget has allocated an additional $9.4 million for Antarctic research and $15.3 million for research into tropical diseases.

The story for science doesn’t end on budget night. The government has committed to working with the Australian Chief Scientist to develop a science strategy and will be consulting broadly with the sector over the coming months. This will be a big deal for Australian science and research and it will be important for every researcher and science organisation with an interest in Australia’s scientific future to provide considered input into the consultation.

As the mining boom slows, this should be a time of growth in science funding. We should be preparing Australia to build a knowledge economy so that we can not just survive but thrive in an increasingly competitive world.

We should be supporting our world-class research infrastructure, and our world-class researchers, to create new knowledge and innovation. And we should be supporting scientists and industry to forge strong links to translate this innovation into economic growth and security; not putting our future wealth and well-being at risk by plundering science for short-term savings.


Read more of The Conversation’s Federal Budget 2015 coverage.

Les Field does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/budget-brief-how-does-science-and-research-funding-fare-41434

Writers Wanted

Physical Therapist Talks About This New Massage Gun On The Block - The HYDRAGUN

arrow_forward

Too much information: the COVID work revolution has increased digital overload

arrow_forward

Ammonite: the remarkable real science of Mary Anning and her fossils

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister's Remarks to Joint Party Room

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is great to be back in the party room, the joint party room. It’s great to have everybody back here. It’s great to officially welcome Garth who joins us. Welcome, Garth...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Business News

Getting Ready to Code? These Popular and Easy Programming Languages Can Get You Started

According to HOLP (History Encyclopedia of Programing Languages), there are more than 8,000 programming languages, some dating as far back as the 18th century. Although there might be as many pr...

News Co - avatar News Co

Avoid These Mistakes When Changing up Your Executive Career

Switching up industries is a valid move at any stage in your career, even if you’re an executive. Doing so at this stage can be a lot more intimidating, however, and it can be quite difficult know...

News Co - avatar News Co

4 Costly Mistake To Avoid When Subdividing Your Property

As a property developer or landowner, the first step in developing your land is subdividing it. You subdivide the property into several lots that you either rent, sell or award to shareholders. ...

News Co - avatar News Co



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion