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Add it up: total R&D spending is headed for an increase.

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Media Release The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources

15 July 2002 02/131


The latest R&D figures show it’s not just the private sector using the current economic good times to become more adventurous and innovative. The ABS reveals that expenditure on research and development within Government organisations has jumped 14 per cent between 1998 and 2000.

Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, points out that, calculated on these figures Australia’s overall expenditure on R&D for 2000-2001 (GERD) could be expected to increase as a percentage of GDP.

"R&D expenditure by government agencies in Australia is higher than most OECD countries, as a percentage of GDP, including the major economies of the US, Japan, Germany, the UK and Canada," he said.

Expenditure within Commonwealth government agencies rose by $218 million or 18 per cent, ahead of all State government spending which improved by $81 million or 9 per cent. The research fields in which most Government expenditure occurred were agricultural, veterinary and environmental sciences ($773 million), engineering and technology ($385 million) and biological sciences ($260 million).

"In the last financial year more than $4.83 billion was pipelined into R&D by Government. The Howard government is not only vigorously working the funding pump, we’ve just primed it with a $2.9 billion innovation plan, Backing Australia’s Ability."

"The ABS figures don’t yet reflect that extra commitment, a fact which must scare Labor whose only attempt at creating industry policy so far has been the half-hearted idea of creating a Ministry of Manufacturing," said Mr Macfarlane.

Through specific and targeted R&D programs, the Howard Government has quadrupled the amount spent by Labor on research and development in its last year. Right now, more than 600 innovative Australian companies are now being matched dollar for dollar with Federal funding.

"The confidence generated by an economy that continues to defy world trends is infectious. Business spending on R&D has reached an all-time high, with an 18 per cent increase on 1999-2000 levels. Private non-profit organisations are spending almost one-third more than in 1998, universities are spending 9 per cent more and a 14 per cent increase means Government organisations are happy to share that bug," he said.

Another Howard government initiative aimed squarely at generating more research and development was the July 1st 2002 introduction of further R&D tax concessions. Small companies are now able to apply for cash-in-hand rebates while others will be given a tax concession of 175 per cent on the amount spent on R&D.

Media Contact: Kirsty Boazman, Minister Macfarlane's office, 02 6277 7580 or 0412 171 444