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Thursday, 3 March 2011
Page: 2311


Mr CHEESEMAN (10:56 AM) —Today I rise to speak on the Australian Research Council Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2010. I must commend the previous speaker, the member for Canberra, for the very well thought through contribution that she made today. This bill makes a special appropriation funding cap that is administered by the Australian Research Council. The Australian Research Council is a statutory authority within the Australian government’s Innovation, Industry, Science and Research portfolio. Its mission is to deliver policy and programs that advance Australian research and innovation. The ARC provides advice to the government on research matters and manages the National Competitive Grants Program. This is a major part of Australian investment in research and development. The National Competitive Grants Program supports the highest quality fundamental and applied research, and research training, through competitive selection processes across all disciplines.

The ARC is a major funding source for research and innovation and investor driven research. I think they are lofty and important aims. The funding will help higher education providers do research in all areas of science and academia. ARC funding has been a big success for regional institutions. Of course, this is very good for my electorate of Corangamite and I certainly look forward to working very closely with Deakin University to ensure that it can access these competitive grants to give the university every opportunity to participate in research and innovation. This funding for the ARC is also very important for the future research of our higher education system. Since 2007 the ARC has delivered some 1,000 Future Fellowships. This was an election commitment that we took to the Australian people prior to the 2007 election. The federal government will be providing $844 million over the next five years as a part of this. This will fund some 1,000 mid-career research fellowships, which is very important for providing academics every opportunity to contribute to this nation’s knowledge.

In 2008 the federal government announced that the ARC Advisory Council would enhance the ARC’s independence, and I think that is a very lofty and important aspiration. This will include indexation adjustments and additional forward estimates for existing schemes within the National Competitive Grants Program. The federal government will also provide $239 million over five years. This will be used for 75 laureate fellowships. This is an important reform for this nation. Institutes will be able to apply for funding under the National Competitive Grants Program.

It is pleasing to note that this non-controversial bill, as I understand it, has the support of both sides of the parliament. It is not often that the federal government has been able to rely upon the support of the coalition, and I am very pleased that we have been able to do so on this very important matter. This bill will allow the ARC to continue to support high-quality research in Australia, and that is good news for Australia. This government has put in place many very important educational reforms, and I believe the ARC will play a very important role in the future of this nation’s educational research. We also know that the National Competitive Grants Program is an important part of this, and it will apply to a diverse area of research training through national competition.

I want to put on record again my great support for Deakin University. Deakin University continues to play a very important role in my electorate of Corangamite and right throughout the Geelong community. Indeed, Deakin University is our largest employer and plays a fundamental role in assisting the Geelong economy to diversify and in providing opportunities for bright people to contribute to this nation’s future. It is with pleasure that I commend the bill to the House.