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Coalition's future plan for backing Australian science and innovation.



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Minister for Industry, Science and Resources COALITION’S FUTURE PLAN FOR BACKING AUSTRALIAN SCIENCE AND INNOVATION

The Coalition’s fully funded, fully costed future plan for science and innovation is delivering real results and real jobs for Australia, the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin, said today.

"Innovation today creates the smart jobs of tomorrow - not just in new industries such as biotechnology and information technology, but in building on our world-leading capabilities in agriculture, mining and manufacturing," Senator Minchin said.

"The Coalition’s comprehensive, forward-looking policy for science and innovation announced earlier this year has as its centrepiece our $3 billion innovation plan, Backing Australia’s Ability, which is already delivering jobs and capacity in Australian innovation.

"For instance:

We have passed legislation introducing a new 175% premium R&D tax concession; ● We have announced the first of an additional 21,000 new full-time equivalent university places; ● We are funding 15 new Major National Research Facilities; ● We have awarded fifteen Federation Fellowships with a further 110 to be announced over the next

5 years, to keep the best and brightest researchers in Australia, while encouraging our scientists to return from overseas.

●

And just last fortnight, we announced further reforms to the taxation of venture capital which the Australian Venture Capital Association has estimated will bring an additional $1 billion of investment into Australia.

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"In addition, over the next 5 years, a re-elected Coalition Government will be Doubling funding to university researchers through an additional $736 million to the Australian Research Council; ●

Increasing funding for Cooperative Research Centres by $227 million; and ● Providing an additional $535 million in R&D grants to support innovative companies. ●

The Coalition is building on the capacity of our science agencies and will recognise their research successes in negotiating their next three year funding agreements for 2003.

"The Coalition restored the $20 million cut in CSIRO’s annual budget that Kim Beazley imposed as Minister for Finance in 1995. We are strongly supporting CSIRO in implementing its new Strategic Action Plan and ensure that Australia’s premier science agency has a strong future", Senator Minchin said.

"The Coalition has increased funding to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, in particular through its decision to construct a $300 million replacement research reactor - the biggest single science and technology infrastructure investment ever in Australia.

"How can Kim Beazley claim to have a plan for fighting cancer when he wants to cancel the facility that will make cancer-fighting radioisotopes?

"How can Kim Beazley claim to support a knowledge nation or Australian jobs when he wants to put 800 employees at Lucas Heights out of work and close our largest-ever investment in science and technology infrastructure?"

Senator Minchin also announced today that the Coalition would conduct a review of the external earnings policy that applies to the science agencies. The policy of requiring science agencies to earn a certain percentage of their income from external sources has been effective in encouraging the agencies to be more outward looking, but may now be hampering more flexible commercialisation strategies.

The review, to be conducted by the Chief Scientist and due by 31 January 2002, will look at alternative options for performance measurement. The terms of reference are attached.

"The Coalition’s fully-costed science and innovation policy stands in stark contrast to the empty rhetoric of Labor’s knowledge nation which has been shown to offer nothing new.

"Just like the GST, Mr Beazley has decided that Labor is so opposed to the Coalition’s innovation plan, that Labor will keep it - showing just what a fraud Mr Beazley and his so-called knowledge nation really are", Senator Minchin said.

 

Media contact: Jen Eddy, Senator Minchin’s office, 0419-432-664 (m) or (02) 6277-7580

Review of the External Earnings Target Policy applying to the Science

Authorities (CSIRO, ANSTO and AIMS)

Terms of Reference

Introduction

External earnings targets were introduced for CSIRO in 1988 and for ANSTO and AIMS in 1990. The original objective of the targets policy was to promote linkages between government research agencies, industry and other research users. The targets are 30% of total income for CSIRO and 20% of total income for ANSTO and AIMS. While the targets have promoted the growth of linkages between the science agencies and the potential users of research, they have also been criticised as a performance measure and for having unintended impacts on collaborative behaviour, the nature and directions of research and performance of the science agencies.

While the Commonwealth continues to encourage the science agencies to strengthen linkages with research users, alternative performance measures may now be appropriate, especially given the more recent pursuit of equity positions as a pathway to commercialisation.

Review

The Chief Scientist will undertake a review of the external earnings targets policy to consider whether there are alternatives which would better encourage science agency-research user linkages and the commercialisation of science agency research.

The Chief Scientist will:

1. Assess the continuing effectiveness and appropriateness of the external earnings target policy as currently applied to CSIRO, ANSTO and AIMS. In making such an assessment, the Chief Scientist will consider the impact of the external earnings targets on:-the nature and directions of research efforts; .

the planning and conduct of research; b. the pricing of research services; c. research commercialisation options and strategies (including IP management and ownership); and d. the resources available to the research agencies (other than the level of the agencies’

appropriations). e.

Develop options for performance measures which could be applied to the science agencies, in the context of the respective agencies’ strategic positioning and the corresponding broad framework of overall performance assessment;

2.

Consult with all relevant science agencies; scientific, academic, and business stakeholders; and state and federal government agencies; 3.

Report to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources and Minister for Finance and Administration by 31 December 2001. In this task, the Chief Scientist will be supported by a Secretariat comprising of officials from the Department of Industry, Science and Resources and the Department of Finance and Administration.

4.

1 November, 2001