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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 10999

Science Funding

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (14:24): My question is to the Treasurer. Science is central to our economy and prosperity, and government investment in research is central to maintaining and growing Australia's scientific capacity. However, there is growing concern about the security of science funding, including from the University of Melbourne, who have written to me setting out their concerns. Treasurer, can you guarantee that science funding will be protected in this financial year? In particular, can you rule out any deferral, freezing or pausing of ARC, NHMRC or other science grants in an attempt to get the budget to surplus? (Time expired)

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:25): The member is absolutely correct to describe the importance of scientific research to our country, to our community and to our long-term economic prosperity. In this vein, the government has acted very swiftly and over a period of time to increase funding to scientific research and innovation. This financial year it is almost $9 billion, an overall increase of 35 per cent since 2007. Also, in terms of health and medical research, that funding has increased substantially since 2007, from $614.5 million in 2006-07 to $760.5 million in 2012-13. Of course, there has also been very substantial investment through the Health and Hospitals Fund and a number of other areas as well.

What that effort does is reflect the importance that the government puts on scientific research. Of course, as we go through producing the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, we will do that in line with the Charter of Budget Honesty and we will do it in line with all past practice, and I do not intend to pre-empt any decisions of MYEFO.

Mr Bandt: Madam Deputy Speaker, I referred in my question to a letter from the University of Melbourne. I seek leave to table the letter, from Jim McCluskey, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), setting out the potential job implications in Victoria if NHMRC and ARC grants are not proceeded with.

Leave not granted.

Mr Hockey: Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask the Treasurer to table the document from which he was reading.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Was the Treasurer reading from a document?

Mr Swan: Yes, I was.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Was it a confidential document?

Mr Swan: Yes.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Blair has the call.