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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee

SCHOFIELD, Professor Peter, Board Director, Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes [by video link]

WESSELINGH, Professor Steve, Vice President, Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences [by video link]


CHAIR: I now welcome representatives from the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes and from the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and giving evidence to Senate committees has been provided to you. I invite you to make a short opening statement.

Prof. Schofield : AAMRI is the peak body for Australia's 58 medical research institutes. They're the names that have become household names during the pandemic, such as the Kirby Institute, the Doherty institute, the Burnet Institute and the Westmead Institute. Together they have provided expert advice to governments across the country. Our members and their 20,000 staff and research students collectively undertake nearly $2 billion of medical research each year into all areas of disease and in all disciplines.

The Medical Research Future Fund is a world-first, a $20 billion sovereign wealth fund designed to boost investment in health and medical research, which we have strongly supported. For 85 years, we've had the National Health and Medical Research Council and we've been outstanding at making new discoveries, but we've been less effective at translating this new knowledge into new drugs, therapies and medical devices. That's what makes the Medical Research Future Fund so exciting. It provides targeted opportunities to turn innovation and discoveries into better health and economic outcomes for the nation. The Medical Research Future Fund is still new—it's still in its infancy—and, as its operations develop over time it's only natural to consider how it can be more effectively managed and deliver better on its mandate. AAMRI is pleased that the government has recognised the need for the fund to evolve in the circumstances in which it operates.

In short, AAMRI welcomes the general aims of the bill to provide greater investment returns for investment back into medical research and to make various changes that improve the administration of the fund's guiding strategy and priorities documents. AAMRI supports the principle of investing the MRFF more ambitiously in assets that are likely to provide a greater return. The current rate of return of the RBA cash rate of two per cent per annum is too conservative for a perpetual fund. More ambitious returns can be achieved without taking on too much risk, as has been seen with future funding.

However, AAMRI is cautious about certain aspects of the legislation. For example, the current legislation protects the initial $20 billion investment in the fund, and we are keen that that provision remains. In this way the fund will always be a source of investment in perpetuity, protected from any future financial difficulties. AAMRI is also pleased that the government wants to provide greater certainty over future funds' availability for medical research but suggests providing minimum funds available in addition to maximum funds would reach this objective. Thank you for allowing me to make these opening remarks, and I look forward to answering your questions, senators.

CHAIR: Thank you, Professor Schofield. Professor Wesselingh, would you like to make an opening statement?

Prof. Wesselingh : The academy would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to provide feedback on the Investment Funds Legislation Amendment Bill 2021. We would like to ask committee to note that, as in our submission, the academy's feedback focuses only on the sections of the bill that affect the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015.

The Medical Research Future Fund, the MRFF, is a once-in-a-generation funding investment that will improve the health of Australians by funding priority health and medical research and innovation. It is one of two major Australian government funding schemes for health and medical research. The academy recognises the significant investment that has been made by the Australian government for the purposes of advancing human health. The academy broadly supports the intention of the proposed amendments to the MRFF outlined in the bill, which seek to streamline aspects of MRFF's administration, provide stability for research funding available, and provide access to funding for state and territory governments. However, we recommend that several risks with the proposed amendments be addressed to better protect the MRFF and therefore better protect the health and medical research that it funds.

The academy recommends that three aspects of the bill be addressed to protect the MRFF, its research funding, and the potential this funding holds for advancing the health and wellbeing of Australians. Firstly, the academy recommends retaining the legal protection that stops the $20 billion MRFF capital from being spent down. Amendments that lift this protection should be removed from the bill. The MRFF is now an essential part of the funding landscape for health and medical research in Australia, and as a stable and secure funding source it provides an unprecedented opportunity to benefit national health and wellbeing. This should be continued and protected by the legislation.

Secondly, the academy supports the proposal for a fixed amount of research funding to be made available from the MRFF each year. However, a minimum amount of $650 million per year should be set, and this should be indexed annually. We understand that the intention underlying the bill is to provide better stability and security for strategic investments in research, leading to better outcomes. However, our recommendation is that the best way to deliver this stability is to set a minimum amount of research funding each year and ensure that this amount is indexed. If the performance of the fund exceeds expectations, there should be an allowance to increase the amount of research funding in a year, and particularly as a mechanism to respond to emerging areas of national need.

Lastly, the academy recommends that any funding from the MRFF that is awarded to state and territory governments should be specified for research only and for no other purpose. The bill proposes eligibility for MRFF funding should be expanded to include state and territory governments. We support this as it is a key enabler for MRFF funding of research within the health system. This is essential for advancing and improving patient care. However, without protection of these funds within funding arrangements or captured in the eligibility criteria, there is a risk that funding may be used in the states and territory health systems for other purposes, such as healthcare delivery, rather than research.

The academy recommends that these three areas be addressed to ensure the ongoing protection of this incredibly valuable research funding source and protection of the potential healthcare benefits it holds. Thank you very much.

CHAIR: Thank you, Professor Wesselingh. I give the call to Senator Ayres.

Senator AYRES: Good morning, professors. Thank you for your submissions and your opening statements. I assume that you are both across the National Audit Office report into the functioning of the fund—

Prof. Schofield : Yes.

Senator AYRES: which says that there is no evidence that the design of the fund has been influenced by the MRFF strategy or the MRFF priorities. Do you broadly agree with the ANAO's findings?

Prof. Schofield : I might kick it off, Senator. I'm not quite sure that the findings of the National Audit Office resulted in a conclusion that the strategies and priorities had not been followed. I think you are alluding to the 10-year plan, are you not?

Senator AYRES: Yes.

Prof. Schofield : The 10-year plan is an instrument of government. It is not part of the MRFF per se, but the MRFF is a tool of government.

Senator AYRES: Yes. That's what I want to come to—the gap between what the government has said the fund is for and whether the architecture of the fund is capable of delivering on the government's stated purpose.

Prof. Schofield : One of the key points is that this is still a new fund. Whilst it has just reached its full capitalisation, the mechanisms of disbursement of grants have been changing and improving substantively, particularly in recent times; and the Audit Office report has, I think, helped that and will continue to help that. The challenge had been that the strategies and priorities were difficult to sit into all of the activities. I think they're becoming more aligned. Personally, I would like to see the government's 10-year plan and the strategies and priorities being harmonised. But we all recognise that the fund is a fund of government, and it has a top-down mission to achieve, so it is reasonable for government to provide top-down objectives.

Prof. Wesselingh : The other point is that there has been a lack of alignment between the strategy and the priorities. The bill addresses that and I think that's really important. The board that oversees it, AMRAB, chaired by Ian Frazer, has tried very hard to develop the right strategies and priorities. I think that has improved and developed over the last few years. With an alignment between the strategies and priorities, I think Ian's board will have a greater influence and we'll see some improvement in that alignment. So I'm comfortable with that.

Senator AYRES: The Audit Office report goes on to recommend that there should be an identification or assessment of managing the risks or initiative level. It says that grants should be reported in the way they're classified in the relevant grant opportunity guidelines and there should be an improvement in performance measures and reporting. These things all go to transparency and accountability. I presume the sector needs predictable, reliant, transparent arrangements not just in terms of the volume of funds that are available but so that there's a straightforward process of competing for funds.

Prof. Schofield : That touches on the single most important point that the sector would like, and that is open and contestable award of funds. In the very beginning of the fund, no administrative structures were set up to look after a huge investment. [Inaudible] some of those things and I believe the Audit Office report has highlighted where some of those shortcomings were. But, with the establishment of the office of the MRFF inside the department, there now are those structures. Increasingly, grants are being contestable. In a top-down fund, there is always a small window for needing to pick urgent priorities. It would be ridiculous if we had a fund that would not allow coronavirus investment at a time when we need coronavirus research investment. So there needs to be a little bit of flexibility. But, by far, the majority of funds should be open and contestable. That's the best way of ensuring good value for the taxpayer and also ensuring that the best projects are being funded.

Senator AYRES: You're right, although one could take that argument too far. This might betray my lack of depth in scientific research, but the reason the scientific community around the world has been able to respond so quickly to developing a series of coronavirus vaccine solutions is deep research funding, over many decades, which has meant the platforms and the capability are there. You don't want too much political haphazard decision-making about where funds are allocated. I think you're saying we need some flexibility, but I assume you don't want total flexibility either.

Prof. Wesselingh : I agree entirely with what you have just said. It is very important that areas like cardiovascular health or epidemiology are identified and supported over time. Interestingly, we had a conversation last night about modelling in Australia and the fact that Australian modellers were supported well before the epidemic and therefore were available for responding to the epidemic. The modellers would argue that maybe they weren't supported enough, but that's a slightly different question. We absolutely need to support the various parts of the medical research community because we don't know what the health problems of the future are and we need to have that capacity to respond to them—whether it is producing a vaccine or responding to increases in dementia or cardiovascular health. So I agree entirely: we need predictable funding across the spectrum of medical research activity.

Prof. Schofield : And that comes out of fixing up the misalignment between the strategies and priorities. Again, it is a new scheme and I'm sure nobody deliberately set the legislation up to make that misalignment. But it has certainly made the process very problematic when your priorities run longer than your strategy period et cetera. Much of what has been proposed is essential but is nonetheless housekeeping. We need to look at the operations, take the Audit Office report and make improvements to the process so that, from a taxpayer perspective, we get the best bang for our buck and are able to respond to the health challenges of the country.

Senator AYRES: Of course, the research that benefits Australians doesn't just occur in Australia. The research that is done in Australia is of enormous benefit to people around the world. That's the way scientific research works.

Prof. Schofield : Correct.

Senator AYRES: Are you aware of any funds operating in overseas jurisdictions that your colleagues in international institutions would be competing for funding from where decisions are made by a minister rather than by an expert panel?

Prof. Schofield : I have a specific example but I will give one in a second. Steve, do you have any?

Prof. Wesselingh : If you look at the UK, the funding is primarily through the MRC, which as far as I know is not ministerially controlled, and the NIHR, which is closer to the MRFF and I think goes up through the chief health officer towards the minister. I'm not sure of the exact governance, to be honest, but the NIHR does perform the same role as the MRFF in funding translational research that impacts directly on health. So there is an impact on the NIHR by the NHS. It is much more involved in the research that impacts on health care delivery and, therefore, it is involved in health care delivery policy et cetera. Without knowing their exact governance, that would probably be the closest example I could argue for. The NIHR, by the way, has I think been a very successful development in the UK.

Senator AYRES: Yes. In terms of the relationship between the science and research community and their industry policy approach, they seem to be getting a number of those things really right in the UK.

I want to come to the volume of funding. In 2014 the commitment was that, once fully capitalised, it would be $1 billion per annum.

Prof. Schofield : That's correct. But I think the first commitment was to create a $20 billion fund, and that piece has been delivered. The $1 billion was the estimate of the earnings return given the investment mandate of the day. Unfortunately the world changed over the time period when funds started going in—interest rates went down—so with that current investment mandate it really is impossible to deliver more than $1 billion. If, as is currently proposed in these amendments, we had adjusted the investment mandate to what, in superannuation policy terms, we would probably call a growth portfolio—it is not a growth portfolio now; it is a conservative portfolio. It's a perpetual fund that has the opportunity of riding out bad times but also making gains in good times. So if we had started with an investment mandate that equalled the growth mandate of our superannuation funds then we probably would have increased the value of the fund and be doing those disbursements today. But global conditions have made it more challenging for the board of governors.

Senator AYRES: You seem very relaxed about a $350 million shortfall.

Prof. Schofield : I'm being pragmatic about it. I also note that this year the government put an additional $172.5 million into the fund, which was uncalled for and not mandated. It was very much because they said investment earnings had been down. I treat this like a long-term perpetual investment—the way I should think of my super when I'm 30. It should be invested wisely so it can deliver as it's meant to. Of course I'm disappointed that there are less funds available today, but I'm still a pragmatist—I'm pleased that there are funds, I'm pleased that there is a contestable process, I'm pleased that there are strategies and priorities for input and consultation as to where that investment should happen.

Prof. Wesselingh : I don't disagree with anything Peter has said. From the academy's point of view, our priority is that the capital fund remains intact and cannot be taken away or diminished at any time, and that the legislation protects the capital. We would absolutely like for it to be $900 million, which is the amount the NHMRC is spending this year. That would be fantastic. But the most important thing for the future of health and medical research and for the confidence of early- and mid-career researchers is that there is a capital fund that is there to support them forever.

Senator AYRES: Yes, although it does have to meet its objectives. It's hard to see how an allocation of $650 million for a fund that is overcapitalised can meet the needs of the sector. It certainly falls short of the political commitment. A $350 million shortfall for research is not a trivial difference, is it?

Prof. Wesselingh : Of course not.

Senator AYRES: I think your assertion, Professor Wesselingh, was that the most important issue is preserving the principal. Is there any evidence that that would be challenged if the government actually met its commitment with what you might say is a more aggressive but, I think we'd probably be able to agree, more responsible investment mandate—that is, an investment mandate consistent with meeting the objectives? How is a $650 million position consistent with that? That is, again, a very conservative approach.

Prof. Wesselingh : Sure. I'm not a financial adviser, but I totally agree that, if in a responsible manner we could see an increase of the order of $300 million in the disbursements annually, that would have an enormous impact at a time when we know that our early- and mid-career researchers are hitting barriers in terms of continuing their careers in health and medical research. So absolutely.

Senator AYRES: Sorry to interrupt. I think that's an important point. Is it your experience that if there is a reduction in funding—whether from $1 billion to $600 million or from $1½ billion to $800 million—the impact is most felt by early- and mid-career researchers because the established people like you two, who have a portfolio of research and have researchers who are working for and with you, are more able to compete for those funds than early- and mid-career researchers? I suppose the corollary of that is new, more speculative areas of research. Is that right?

Prof. Wesselingh : I think it's a fair statement. I think the pinch point that we're aware of at the academy and that the NHMRC is aware of is with the early- and mid-career researchers. If you lose people like that from the sector, there are not many ways back. So, yes, we are very aware of the career development of our young, bright researchers and the opportunity to provide them with support. So, yes, absolutely. That, I think, is one of the sector's main concerns.

Senator AYRES: I don't think I'll push you much further on that. I think your evidence is that you'd want to see the fund meet its objectives, but I think you said you're not a financial adviser. But you haven't been provided with evidence that suggests that going higher than the $650 million is going to threaten the viability of maintaining the principal, essentially?

Prof. Wesselingh : No, we haven't been provided with evidence that suggests that.

Senator AYRES: But you want a prudent approach?

Prof. Wesselingh : Yes.

Senator AYRES: Okay. I'm also puzzled about the indexation issue. It's going to take a long time, with indexation, for $650 million to get to $1 billion, isn't it?

Prof. Schofield : Can we come back at it slightly differently? I believe the proposal from both the academy and AAMRI is that $650 million is set as the base and that the investment mandate increases and the corpus of funds grows, and therefore there is the opportunity for that larger number which you and we would both like and which I'm sure the government would like as well. So we're not seeing $650 million as the end; we're seeing it as the base. Future growth will allow the board of governors to advise the relevant minister of a larger disbursement as the fund grows in value. It is already worth, I understand, from when I last looked, $21.5 billion, so it has already generated earnings, even in these tough financial times. So I think—

Senator AYRES: It's nudging $22 billion—well and truly overcapitalised, in a canter, really, despite the environment that it operates in. I just find it very difficult to reconcile this. The government said, 'Once fully capitalised, a billion dollars;' they didn't say, 'Once fully capitalised plus 50 per cent will get you to a billion dollars.'

Prof. Wesselingh : Understood.

Senator AYRES: I'm reluctant to do the maths on my feet about what sort of capitalisation that would require. The big announcement of a billion dollars, a big round number, in 2014 has turned into a 65 per cent delivery, hasn't it?

Prof. Wesselingh : Just to restate the academy's position and what Peter said, we see the $650 million as an absolute minimum but that it never goes below that and, with indexation, it keeps up with inflation—

Senator AYRES: But—sorry—have expectations become so low that the minimum should be 65 per cent of the government's commitment? We should be lifting our sights, shouldn't we? This is a very important area of public research. From Prime Minister Abbott—presumably, the current Prime Minister was somewhere at the press conference—it was a big announcement; the sector could set its sights on what the future would be like. But the delivery is two-thirds of the thing, and—

Prof. Wesselingh : I absolutely can't argue with that. If there were an increase of $200 million, $300 million or $400 million, it would have a dramatic impact on the sector and the sector would deliver far more than it does right now. So the academy would absolutely support that—as I said, as long as we're prudent about maintaining the capital. But, yes, we know that every dollar spent on medical research—this is actually AAMRI research, so I'm doing Peter's job here—brings another four dollars into the economy. So it's absolutely worthwhile—absolutely.

Senator AYRES: Thank you very much, both of you, for your submissions and the discussion and, of course, all of the work that you do in your respective fields. I look forward to seeing you out there.

CHAIR: Senator Patrick, you have the call.

Senator PATRICK: Thank you to the witnesses for attending today. I want to look at a particular area around the fund. There are FOI changes in the bill, but I also refer back to the Auditor-General's report that talked about issues associated with transparency. So I'm going to put something on the table and then ask you to comment about it, because it may be that I seek to modify the bill or amend the bill accordingly. My starting position is that, whilst I appreciate the value of the MRFF, it is a corruption incubator. It's a corruption incubator because the applications made for grant funding are not public. The people who review the funding applications are held secret and, indeed, the assessment, as to which entity is successful and will receive the grant, is secret. That is a set of situations that can lead to corruption. And it can be soft corruption. It has been put to me that there are sometimes people on the panels who certainly are not going to receive a reward for a particular grant assessment themselves but who, next time around, might find themselves in a pretty good position. It's all very comfortable.

I contrast that with the NIH in the US, a $35-billion-per-annum fund, where, as a starting point, they warn that if you are a successful applicant you can expect your application—subject to elements that might reveal intellectual property or commercial secrets—to be made available if an FOI request is made. And the people who review grant applications are public. There's a spokesperson nominated, and, whilst everyone's aware of who's on the panel, no-one's allowed to speak to anyone on the panel other than the spokesperson. They seem to make it work, but we don't.

Having laid that out on the table, I'd like to get the views of both of you. I'm not in any way trying to suggest that we shouldn't have an MRFF—I think we should—but I want the best possible MRFF, without any inner perception of corruption.

Prof. Wesselingh : Firstly, peer review is an essential part of our sector—and of most scientific sectors, but it's certainly an essential part of health and medical research. The debate about whether peer reviewers—whether of journal articles or research grants—are made public is a debate that we have. In Australia we don't make peer reviewers of research grants public. We're a small community, and obviously there would be major issues associated with making public exactly who is peer reviewing which grants, and their response. We may not get as much clarity and honesty if we go down that track. But it is a valid debate.

I don't think there's any sense of corruption there. It's just that peer reviewers, as I said, for most journals are kept secret, and peer reviewers for research are not released publicly. In Australia we have very high-quality peer review, and the gold standard is the NHMRC. The MRFF office, as Peter said a little while ago, was quite small to start with, so it did take them some time to grow the office and grow their peer-review capability. As a consequence of that, their peer-review processes, which are complex and take a lot of time and effort, have improved substantially over time. They've got a bigger pool of peer reviewers, and they've improved the processes and the reporting. I'm sure there are further improvements that could be made, as there are with NHMRC as well, but these processes require feedback from the sector and then changes and improvement, as well as training of peer reviewers. I'm quite cognisant of the whole process; I chair a research committee for NHMRC, and we spend a lot of time talking about peer review. We see Australia's peer review as being up there with the best in the world.

Senator PATRICK: I'll go to you first, and then I'll come back to Professor Schofield. Firstly, you talk about a small community: isn't it the case that that probably exacerbates the risk of corruption? Secondly—and I have a few comments, which you can come back to—peer review of research papers is, maybe, appropriately kept confidential; however, this is public money. This is my money. This is the public's money being spent, when we issue a grant. Whilst you might say that you have a gold standard, I have no visibility of that, because there's a choice made to keep it secret. I put it to you that if you're involved in the receipt of—or, indeed, the granting of—public money to an entity, there is a cost to that, and part of that cost is some transparency. I put it to you that people would accept a level of transparency that would eliminate some of the concerns that I've raised. Professor, maybe you'd like to comment on that. It's just a bit of a dialogue.

Prof. Wesselingh : The more transparency the better—I don't disagree with you there. I think we are seeing transparency in the number of grants; where the grants are going; the make-up of the early-, mid- and senior-career researchers who are getting the grants; gender make-up; and diversity in terms of Indigenous and so on. That starts to tell you quite a lot already. I think the medical research community would be happy to have a debate about identifying reviewers, but, personally, I think that would reduce the quality of our peer review, not improve it, at the moment. But it is an ongoing debate in the community; I accept that.

Senator PATRICK: There are people who say that they'd like to speak fearlessly and therefore confidentially, but the irony of that is that if you seek confidentiality you're in fact not fearless; you are fearful that your work might be examined by others. This goes to your proposition that people won't come forward. Is that really the case? My view on professionals in any domain, particularly Aussies, is that they'll happily come forward and they're not afraid to put their perspective, if they are confident. Advice that is made in secret or only under the condition of confidentiality—I'm not sure Id' want to take that advice.

Prof. Wesselingh : One of the things that we do need to understand is the volume of peer review that occurs. Thousands and thousands of investigator grants, through the NHMRC, and MRFF grants are being peer reviewed all the time. People are reviewing them, writing comments, giving scores and sending them back in. In a given year an individual medical researcher might review up to 60 grants, so the process of making that public is quite complex. I think you're also alluding to the fact that an individual has a significant amount of power here, but, because most grants would be reviewed by five or more people, the peer-review process actually dilutes out the individual impact of an individual assessor. If you get five peers who are expert in an area to review a grant, I think you do, in the end, get a score that reflects the quality of that grant. That grant is then ranked against other grants that also have five reviewers, and so on. So the system is not quite as simple as what you're alluding to, and I think the complexity actually leads in part to its quality. Peter might want to comment, as well.

Senator PATRICK: I will come to Professor Schofield in a moment. The sort of remedy I'm talking about I don't think has to be complex. It's simply that I think all those people who make an application are entitled to have those applications remain secret, except in circumstances where they are the beneficiary of the awarding of the funds—once they are in receipt of public funds. All I'm after is the application, the names of the people who are reviewing it and the output of the review process that results in the expenditure of public money. I think if you're unsuccessful you can be private in your unsuccessful bid. Maybe Professor Schofield can add some perspective to this.

Prof. Schofield : You've raised some really important points, because making sure that there is honest, fair, transparent review of all grants of public moneys is critical. So there's no disagreement with you on the big picture. In the NHMRC world—and Steve has taken a very major role in the reimagining of the peer-review system there—we've increased the number of independent reviews. I think that's really important because those reviews have to be done without any reference to others, just on your expert knowledge. That's a very important protection.

I think—and I expect my colleagues would feel—that putting out the full grant application once funded is in a sense perhaps a step too far because much of these are the ideas about which I am going to work, in the same way you probably don't foreshadow the details of the legislation you might propose to parliament or the amendments you put up. So there's a little process there of being able to protect that, but I do think a suggestion you have made has strong merit—that is, we could do more to list the people who were peer reviewers for a grant competition. Not, 'I reviewed your grant,' but rather, 'I was a member of the panel that was involved in reviewing the grants.' That does provide that level of transparency and visibility whilst nonetheless allowing the individual critique of specific grants to be done. Perhaps that's a halfway house between increasing visibility and transparency.

Many journals don't list who does the reviews, but at the end of the year they make a list of who the reviewers were. In agencies, the NHMRC and the academy that was responsible for selecting and allocating grants to review, the list of members of the academy was made available—not who managed which grant. That might be one way of addressing your concerns. I think the sector would support that, but perhaps not support tying individual review names to individual grants.

Senator PATRICK: I will conclude my questions there. I make the comment that, as a senator, one of my jobs is to kick the debate along, and I will continue to do this for some time. I may move amendments. It's not that I'm afraid of foreshadowing them. I point out that any amendment I table is available for everyone to see. Generally I play in a very open and transparent manner in the Senate. I thank both of you very much for your comments.

Prof. Wesselingh : I want to make one final comment because I do think peer review is really important. I want to make it clear that the NHMRC spends a lot of time looking around the world at NIH, NIHR, MRC and so on at their peer-review processes and believes that it picks the very best aspects of all of those processes and utilises them in Australia in an NHMRC peer review. I know we're talking about the MRFF, but the NHMRC and the MRFF obviously work very closely together in terms of developing peer reviews. I want to put on the record the quality of Australian peer review. It is recognised around the world as one of the best systems.

Senator PATRICK: Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you, professors, for your evidence to the committee today and for answering our questions. The committee has set Friday 1 October as the due date for answers to questions taken on notice during this session. The committee will now suspend for a short break.

Prof. Wesselingh : Thank you.

Prof. Schofield : Thank you very much.

Proceedings suspended from 10:28 to 10:46