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Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Page: 7923

Senator KIM CARR (Victoria) (15:54): I move:

That there be laid on the table by the Minister representing the Minister for Education, by no later than 9.30 am on 15 November 2018, the most recent incoming ministers brief from the Australian Research Council.

I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator KIM CARR: The former minister for education, Senator Birmingham, did not explain why he vetoed 11 grant applications for humanities and social science research projects recommended by the ARC. He still has not done so, apart from sneering at project titles. The applicants only found out what happened when the ARC confirmed the former minister's decisions at Senate estimates. They are all eminent scholars, but the arbitrary rejection of their work affects their reputations and career prospects. The present minister, Mr Tehan, has proposed a national interest test for applicants, without explaining why a further test is needed beyond that already contained in the application process. As all the research community has recognised, political interference threatens the independence and integrity of the peer review grants process. It is an established principle that politicians should not decide on funding of individual grant projects. The government should recommit and prevent further harm to the standing of Australia's research institutions. (Time expired)