Put politics aside says research community

Burnet Institute

17 June, 2013

Australia’s research and science community have joined together to call on political leaders to put short-term politics aside and back a strategic national research policy.

A delegation in Canberra today of seven leading research organisations and Australian Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt warned of a dire future if politicians didn’t take a bipartisan and strategic approach to funding research.

Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes President, and Director and CEO of the Burnet Institute, Professor Brendan Crabb was one of the signatories to the Research Coalition plea.

Professor Crabb told AAP as reported in The Australian that because scientific discovery took time, year-by-year funding didn’t give any sense of security.

“The process led to researchers spending more time applying for funding than carrying out research,” Professor Crabb said.

“There is a break point where things just seem too uncertain and too hard.

“There’s a real fear that we’re entering a phase where there’s a crisis of confidence amongst researchers, particularly the emerging research workforce, our young people.”

Speaking in Canberra Nobel prize winner, Professor Schmidt said his own discipline of optical astronomy would be driven “into the abyss” by 2015 if changes were not made.

“I do not want just a band aid because I’m a Nobel prize winner for astronomy,” he said.

“I want a landscape where strategic decisions are made in this country rather than things just happening.”

Australian research bodies called on politicians to stick to six fundamental principles for a committed, strategic approach to research:

  • Investing strategically and sustainably
  • Building our research workforce – getting and keeping the best
  • Building a productive system and getting the most out of it
  • Being among and working with the world’s best
  • Bringing industry and academia together
  • Expanding industry research

“Without a committed, strategic approach to supporting the nation’s research system, we risk wasting our great national talent and our precious capacity-building investments and resources, and falling behind our region and the world,” the Research Coalition warned.

Among the signatories are:

  • Professor Brian Schmidt, Australian Nobel Laureate
  • Professor Robert Williamson, Australian Academy of Science
  • Peter Laver, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
  • Professor Tony Peacock, Cooperative Research Centres Association
  • Professor Les Field, Group of Eight Australia
  • Catriona Jackson, CEO Science and Technology Australia
  • Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive, Universities Australia
  • Professor Brendan Crabb, President, Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes

The media release is available for download (right).

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Brendan Crabb AC

Director and CEO; Co-Head Malaria Research Laboratory; Chair, Victorian Chapter of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI)




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