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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12796


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (13:53): The Australia in the Asian century white paper released by the government correctly puts an emphasis on innovation and research, particularly in our universities, as one of the pathways to Australia becoming Asia capable. The Greens know that science and research underpin our economy and are critical to our future prosperity. That is why the Greens have so strongly opposed cuts to research funding in the MYEFO budget—cuts which include $500 million being taken from the Sustainable Research Excellence initiative budget. The Greens oppose that cut. We believe the government should be spending more on research and development, not less. In fact, if Australia is to compete in this Asian century, the Greens believe we need to be increasing our spending on combined private and public R&D to three per cent of GDP.

Discoveries need dollars, something that our researchers and scientists around the country know. They have been very active in supporting the Greens' push to protect the research budget and have signed our petition calling on the Treasurer to protect the research budget and not sacrifice science for a surplus. Over 3,650 people have signed my online petition and a large number have signed the hard-copy petition which I am presenting today. I understand many more have arrived in my office just today. The petitioners include scientists, researchers and thousands of Australians who know research is critical to our future. I want to make particular note of one of the petitioners, Professor David Penington, who knows, more than anyone else, the importance of science and research and what it can achieve. Ultimately, we need to stop seeing science and research as a honeypot that we can dip into every time the budget needs more money. I present the petition.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

The petition of the undersigned concerned citizens:

1. Affirms that science is central to our economy and prosperity and that government investment in research is central to maintaining and growing Australia's scientific capacity;

2. Notes the growing concern amongst the science and research community about the security of funding; and

3. Notes the risks to jobs and the economy if funding is not secured.

We therefore requests that the House call on the Treasurer to:

1. Guarantee that science and research funding will be protected this financial year; and

2. Rule out any attempt to defer, freeze or pause Australian Research Council, National Health and Medical Research Council, Cooperative Research Centres or other science and research grants in an attempt to achieve a Budget surplus.

from 437 citizens

Petition received.