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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 890

Senator WILLESEE asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Has the Australian Society for Medical Research alleged that, because of lack of funds, at least 20 top medical research scientists have been forced to leave Australia during the last 3 years.

(2)   Does the Minister accept the Society's contention that 'the real figure for grants handed out through the National Health and Medical Research Council is $2.25m\

(3)   Has the Government any plans to increase funds for medical research and halt the exodus of Australia's leading medical scientists.

Senator GREENWOOD-The Acting Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   I have seen newspaper reports to this effect

(2)   For the year ending 31st December 1972 the Commonwealth has allocated $2. 7m in grants from the Medical Research Endowment Fund, on recommendations by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

(3)   The allocation of funds available for medical research under the Medical Research Endowment Act are kept under regular review by the Government. Funds available under the Act for medical research have increased from $340,000 in 1956 to $2.7m in 1972 and the Government has recently announced a total grant of $13. 5m for the next biennium, commencing on 1st January 1973. This represents a $6.5m increase over the amount granted for medical research in the current triennium. In addition, the Government recently made grants of $250,000 to the National Heart Foundation and $100,000 to the Australian Cancer Society for medical research.

The development and maintenance of a stable framework for the support and advancement of the national medical research effort will continue to be a major objective of the Government. Concerning the departure of medical scientists from Australia, there is evidence that most leave to study for higher degrees or to work in specialised research areas where training facilities are not available to them in Australia. Enquiries have shown that the great majority return with valuable experience of benefit to this country.

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