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ALP has wrong answer on research and development: Greens.



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Senator Christine Milne

ALP has wrong answer on research and development: Greens

Senator Milne, 10th July 2006

The ALP is right to argue there is something wrong with research and development in Australia but its solutions are way off track, Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne said today.

"There is no doubt Australian research and development is doing badly. In 2003, R&D investment in Australia equalled 0.79% of our GDP compared to an OECD average that year of 1.53%," Senator Milne said in Hobart.

"Also, most of our R&D is undertaken by large companies in established industries so it is doing little to broaden our economic base or to recognise new niche opportunities.

"The ALP, however, is wrong in proposing that new R&D incentives be changed and targeted at industries in which Australia already has a competitive advantage.

"Australia needs to recognise that the industrial age built on cheap, plentiful, easily accessible oil for transport and coal for electricity is over. The countries that will do well in the future are those that recognise the need to shift to low carbon technology and environmental management technologies.

"Established economies know how to use Earth's resources at an unsustainable rate. What they don't know is how to maintain clean air and water, and uncontaminated food in an age of increasing growth.

"Australia needs to look at its competitive advantage through new lenses. We have renewable energy in abundance and yet we continue to focus on fossil fuels like coal.

"What we need are well targeted R&D incentives for industries that are vital to the survival of the Australian environment and, therefore, the Australian economy. This means R&D incentives for energy efficient and renewable energy technologies.

"Denmark has become a world leader in wind technology and Japan and Germany lead the world in photovoltaic technology. Australia could lead the world in solar technology and efficient transport technology if only the federal government would develop an integrated energy, industry and employment strategy that would stop driving our brightest people overseas."

Contact: Katrina Willis 03 6234 4566 or 0437 587 562