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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12003


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:49): My question is to the Prime Minister. Recently, the Prime Minister said:

Our government is committed to an innovative Australia. Innovation nation.

They are nice words, but can the Prime Minister confirm it is still Liberal government policy to cut $3 billion from science, innovation and research, including $300 million from university research, $107 million from co-operative research centres and more than $170 million from research training?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:49): I thank the honourable the Leader of the Opposition for his question. As he has mentioned science, I would like to add my congratulations to the winners of the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science awards who were here earlier, and, in particular, the two science teachers. It is an absolutely critical and important objective of our government—and one would hope every government—that science be taught well in schools and that more students undertake STEM subjects. That is a critical objective. The reality is that spending on science and research is increasing year after year. The fact is that we have a very deep commitment to this. The opposition is very familiar with its efforts in actually holding back investment in medical research. I would invite the minister for, among other things, science to provide some further details to the House on the government's commitment in this area.

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science) (14:50): I thank the Prime Minister for the opportunity to inform the opposition about some of the facts to do with the funding of research and science and innovation and higher education following the Leader of the Opposition's question. Of course, before I held this position as Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, I was the minister for university education. Before I deal with innovation, I will start by explaining that, when I became the minister for higher education, I immediately had two funding cliffs left by the Labor Party, who asked this question about cuts to research. The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme was left without any funding at all—an undeniable fact; the Future Fellowships program was left without any funding at all—an undeniable fact—both of which I fixed with the support of the then Treasurer and the then Prime Minister. In fact, this government put more money into research and universities and science than Labor had left.

The Leader of the Opposition asked specifically about CSIRO. It is remarkable that he has not done his homework or that his staff have not done their homework or perhaps, indeed, the member for Grayndler is supplying today's questions pack, because it has been so disastrous for the Leader of the Opposition—

The SPEAKER: The minister will return to the answer.

Mr PYNE: But when the Labor Party were in office they cut $83 million from CSIRO. Between 2011 and 2016 they have had $83 million cut—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. Before I call the member for Sydney, I have warned about frivolous points of order. I will hear the point of order. What is the point of order?

Ms Plibersek: Well—

The SPEAKER: No, not 'well', what is the point of order?

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members will cease interjecting. I have asked a number of times when a point of order is being made for members to state the point of order.

Mr Ewen Jones interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Herbert is warned. The member for Sydney will state the point of order.

Ms Plibersek: It is on relevance. The minister is talking about the CSIRO, which we did not ask about!

The SPEAKER: The member for Sydney will resume her seat. The minister has the call.

Mr PYNE: Oh, dear. In the time I have left perhaps I should state that the CSIRO is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation! It is actually not a made-up name! It is not a country or a continent! That might have confused the deputy opposition leader. It is actually— (Time expired)