Burnet Institute welcomes the Federal Government’s continuing commitment to the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) in the 2018-19 Federal Budget, while disappointed with the decision not to keep aid linked to inflation.
The Budget, announced by Federal Treasurer The Hon Scott Morrison MP, provides for significant new investment in innovative research fields, including genomics, mental health, rare cancers and heart disease.
The MRFF is set to reach $20 billion by 2020-21 with its disbursements set to double the government’s contribution to health and medical research.
Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC said it’s a vote of confidence in the excellent results being delivered by Australian researchers, and will help to ensure that Australia remains a global leader in health and medical research.
“Medical research is not only essential to improving the health of Australians through new tests, medicines and preventions, it is a major wealth generator. The MRFF is recognition of that and we are delighted to see this commitment honoured,” Professor Crabb said.
“We’re living longer, better and more productive lives and we’re doing that, to a large degree, as a result of innovations arising from medical research.”
Also announced in the budget was funding for a National Research Infrastructure Plan totaling close to $2 billion over the next decade, and $4.5 million over four years to encourage more women into STEM education and careers.
While the budget provides for increases in aid for the Pacific, the decision to no longer keep increases linked to inflation means aid will fall from 0.23 percent of national income this year to 0.19 percent in 2021-22.
“Given the stronger budget conditions, it’s a missed opportunity to return to a contribution that is more commensurate with our wealth and capacity to give,” Professor Crabb said.
“The erosion of foreign aid is not in Australia’s interests, and certainly not in the interests of the poorest and most marginalised people of our region. Aid underpins a healthier, more secure and prosperous world so our continued underinvestment in this area is troubling.”
Australia has fallen to 19th out of 29 countries that give overseas aid.