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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4318

Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (12:46): I rise to speak on the Australian Research Council Amendment Bill 2018. Labor supports the passage of these technical but necessary amendments to raise the caps on spending of the discovery and linkage programs of the Australian Research Council. These funding schemes are vital to the Australian research and innovation system and form a key part of this nation's fundamental, or basic, research and applied research effort. These funding schemes are underpinned by the fundamental principles of excellence, institutional autonomy and academic freedom.

Every year, this country invests hundreds of millions of dollars into the national research enterprise through the ARC. We make this investment because it's this parliament's obligation to give our researchers the best kit the country can afford. We make this investment because we value what researchers do. In exchange for that investment, we ask Australian researchers to help us meet the expectations of the Australian people. We cannot expect the investments made by the ARC in the humanities and the sciences to pass unnoticed by the anti-science club, be it on the extreme right or the extreme left of the political spectrum. We cannot afford to give way to irrational populism and ignorance. This nation, Australia, needs the very best humanities, arts, social sciences and STEM research that it can muster. It needs the Australian Research Council and the values the council and academy embody, the best guardians of Australian civilisation that this nation has.