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Remarks at NHMRC funding announcement, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne

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23 October 2013



It’s very, very good to be here with you all today to pay tribute to the great work that has been done at the Alfred Hospital for about 130 years now and to celebrate the work of Australia’s health and medical research community.

We don’t always appreciate out there in the general community just how good we are as Australians at health and medical research. There’re 23 million of us but we are a comparative super power, certainly a world power, when it comes to health and medical research. We’re up there amongst the top five nations of the world when it comes to health and medical research - about one per cent of the world’s population, close to five per cent of the world’s refereed health and medical research. We are very, very good at it and because we are good at it, we do so much good for patients here in Australia and right around the world who benefit from the results of our health and medical research community.

We do, of course, get some recognition. We’ve had three Australian Nobel Prize winners in just the last decade in health and medical research. Three Australians of the year in just the last decade have been health and medical researchers, but frankly, we are so good at this that we do need to tell the story again and again and again and I’m pleased, as Prime Minister, to be here to do what I can in my own way today to let Australia and the wider world know just what we are doing with health and medical research here in this country right now.

The Government that I have the honour to lead is determined to do everything that we reasonably can, even in these fiscally challenged times, to ensure that Australia’s health and medical research effort continues. At this point in time, we don’t have additional funding but we are determined to try to ensure that the funding goes as far as it can. That’s why there are some changes coming to increase the length of most NHMRC grants so that people spend more of their time researching and less of their time filling out forms.

We are going to try to streamline and improve the assessment process through an early triage system so that over time, more of the grant applications ought to be successful. We don’t want to see a situation where our best people are filling out grant applications only to find four in five fail. So there’s lot of work that we are going to do even within the current fiscal envelope to ensure that your work bears even more fruit in the future than it has in the recent past.


I’m about to throw to Minister Dutton to say some more about the successful grant applications which are announced today - some $559 million of spending, which is announced today. I just want to say that the lion’s share has gone to Victoria, including to researchers at institutions based here in and around the Alfred Hospital.

As a Sydneysider, let me say how proud I am of the health and medical research which is done in Melbourne. You are proudly and by quite a way, the health and medical research capital of Australia and I’m pleased to be part of a Government which is able to support you in this way.