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Wednesday, 20 March 1985
Page: 453

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services) —by leave-This report sets out the findings and conclusions of a Department of Finance-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research and Organisation Joint Working Party convened at the suggestion of the previous Minister for Finance, Mr Dawkins. Mr Dawkins took this initiative because of the level of public debate on the funding of scientific endeavours in Australia, and in particular the funds allocated to the CSIRO in the 1984-85 Budget.

The joint working party addressed the 1984-85 Budget for CSIRO; financial management and control in CSIRO; communication and information flows between CSIRO and the Department of Finance; the allocation of resources in CSIRO; and other related matters. The working party concluded that the most appropriate measure for interpreting CSIRO's budget allocation is its overall level of ongoing activity abstracting from variation in non-recurring expenditures. On this basis the joint working party agreed that CSIRO received an increase of 6.6 per cent in Government funding in 1984-85, following increases of 17.2 per cent in 1982-83 and 6.9 per cent in 1983-84. Including funds provided by industry and other sources for sponsored research projects, the increases in ongoing funding are 7.8 per cent in 1984-85 following increases of 17 per cent in 1982-83 and 6.3 per cent in 1983-84.

In addition, the report contains a description of CSIRO's management information and control systems and concludes that these are appropriate for the proper management and control of CSIRO's finances. The joint working party commended efforts made by CSIRO to develop efficient procedures for allocating and redeploying its resources. The joint working party also acknowledged the desirability of maintaining a balanced program of ongoing research activity and capital works and concluded that once its global budget has been decided the CSIRO should be free to determine the final allocation of that funding, provided the allocation does not lead to unacceptable budgetary commitments in future years. It was also agreed that funds from external sources should not be regarded as replacing appropriation funds on a dollar for dollar basis. I am tabling this report now so that any continuing debate on funding of CSIRO's activities may be better informed as to the facts of the matter.