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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11500


Ms MARINO (ForrestChief Government Whip) (10:49): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that the jobs of the future will require science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills;

(2) welcomes the Government's ongoing investment of $9.7 billion in science, research and innovation; and

(3) acknowledges that the Government is:

(a) delivering on its promised Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda; and

(b) putting science at the centre of industry.

There is an enormous opportunity in the modern world for those able to innovate and create, and it is essential that Australia is able to take advantage of these opportunities. To grow our economy and build the standard of living that Australians want to have, we will need to take full advantage and make use of our intellectual capital and our human potential, of which there is plenty in Australia. This government really understands the importance of innovation, and we are all excited by the challenges that the future holds. We know that innovation is central to this government's agenda for boosting economic growth and, as we know, it is the entrepreneurial culture that is critical in driving jobs and growth into the future. The Prime Minister said:

If we want to remain a prosperous, first world economy with a generous social welfare safety net, we must be more competitive, we must be more productive. Above all we must be more innovative. We have to work more agilely, more innovatively, we have to be more nimble in the way we seize the enormous opportunities that are presented to us.

The energetic Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the member for Sturt, is certainly promoting innovation and excellence in science and research. He will be a catalyst in this space. We know that Australia is a preferred global partner for science collaboration, and trade agreements only strengthen this—the three new trade agreements as well. With 0.3 per cent of the world's population, Australia is ranked 10th globally for science publication and produces four per cent of the world's knowledge. Those are figures from 2013.

Over the last two years the government has steadily and systematically put in place a new framework, which we are now capitalising on—a new framework for Australian industry and science focused on building our areas of competitive strengths and supporting our industries as they transition to new opportunities and building industries of the future. We are committed to ensuring that Australian industry can make full use of the government's investment in research and science. The government's Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda has set out a new paradigm for industry policy, with an emphasis on science to foster innovation and research. It has involved working closely with industry, universities, the research sector, the science community and business to encourage increased collaboration and to place science at the centre of industry in order to take advantage of the transitioning global economy. Over the last two budgets we have announced targeted investments of more than $230 million in science, including securing the ongoing operation of vital scientific assets, like the RV Investigator,and promoting science in the committee. Across government there has been an investment of more than $9.7 billion this year alone on science, research and innovation. This is above the OECD average.

We have consulted widely, have developed ways to boost our national science, technology, engineering and mathematics capability and are determined to increase the number of students studying STEM subjects in schools and universities and taking STEM skills into the workforce. Computer science is a critical part of this. I encourage students to pursue their passion in life and in their career but also to take computer science, which will enable the creativity and of course the analytical processes that will be required in the future. This government is investing $12 million to improve the focus on these subjects in primary and secondary schools through the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. The Assistant Minister for Science, the Hon. Karen Andrews, and Australia's Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, recently consulted across Australia on the vision for a science nation responding to science, technology, engineering and mathematics—Australia's future. It is a vision to enhance Australian competitiveness by supporting high-quality STEM education and training, maximising research potential and strengthening our international engagement.

As Australia passes through its once-in-a-century mining boom into a more normal long-term production phase in the resources sector, we are becoming far more innovative in delivering economic returns. Obviously business is involved as well as the university sector, and national institutes like the CSIRO and Questacon are part of this agenda. Universities conduct a significant proportion of the research done in Australia. We need to more closely align Australian universities and the industry, business and entrepreneurial world. While 70 per cent of Britain's researchers are in universities and 70 per cent of Australia's researchers are in universities, four per cent of Australian researchers are involved in business but in Britain that number is as high as 40 per cent. To remedy this the Australian government is continuing to work with the industry and science sectors—the engine room of national productivity—to generate economic growth and create new jobs. We are doing this by building on the major reforms that have been implemented since the coalition government was elected two years ago.

These achievements include an investment of over $2.2 billion into industry programs over four years, helping to deliver new jobs; a $225 million Industry Growth Centres Initiative focused on lifting competitiveness and productivity in areas of competitive strength, including greater rates of collaboration between industry and science; and an Entrepreneurs' Program with over $100 billion invested annually across the country to provide advice, support, connections, collaborations and assistance with commercialisation. This is a significant investment over the forward estimates—practical, quality advice and support for entrepreneurs to innovate and grow. There is a $50 million Manufacturing Transition Program to help Australia transition to high-value, knowledge-intensive manufacturing; an Industry Skills Fund which provides $664 million over five years, providing more than 250,000 training places and support services across Australia; new country of origin food labels which will give consumers access to clear, consistent and easy-to-understand food labelling information; a tougher antidumping regime that levels the playing field for Australian industry, including a greater onus on overseas businesses to cooperate and better assistance for Australian businesses. There has been record funding of $3.1 billion for CSIRO over the next four years, increasing year-on-year; the appointment of a new chairman and new CEO for CSIRO as the nation's pre-eminent science agency works with the new industry growth centres; the refocussed CRC program and the Entrepreneurs' Program to ensure a comprehensive, accessible and effective industry network that delivers outcomes for businesses; a $100 billion exploration development incentive which is now supporting junior exploration companies to conduct greenfields mineral exploration; and an energy white paper which provides a coherent, long-term energy policy framework to underpin competition, productivity and investment in the energy sector that will deliver competitive energy.

The coalition government is working with industry and science to improve our competitiveness, innovate our production and increase our reach into global markets. I spoke earlier about the $9.7 billion to support science programs, initiatives and specialised science and research agencies. Science is at the centre of industry policy and science, research and development boots business productivity and is a major driver of our economy. We all know that scientific discovery is a critical underpinning part of innovation. The links between science and industry in Australia have to be strengthened even more so that more of the great research that I spoke about earlier in Australia can be turned into viable, profitable products. The government is investing more than $731 million over five years for CRCs, and that continues to advance a diverse range of research. The CRC program currently supports 35 industry-driven research partnerships between publicly funded researchers, businesses and the community to address major long-term challenges across all disciplines and industry sectors. The ongoing collaboration in this space is particularly important. I commend the government's intentions to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Broadbent ): Is the motion?

Mr Ramsey: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.