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AU$10m for research that will inform public policy

Six multi-disciplinary research programmes to be administered by Australia's four learned academies have received AU$10 million from the Australian Research Council (ARC), science minister Chris Evans said on 26 June.

The research will be undertaken under the direction of the Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) and government chief scientist Ian Chubb. The intent is that findings will inform future public policy.

The government announced plans for the multi-million investment in April, and funded projects reflect the objective of supporting work in areas of strategic national importance.

Projects will seek to identify opportunities and challenges related to new energy sources, especially gas, and assess the social, cultural and economic implications of their adoption in Australia; explore the role of science, research and technology in stimulating Australian productivity; and evaluate the risks and opportunities of new technologies, including an analysis of how these technologies have transformed Australian society, democracy, environment, security and trade.

The other three projects are a programme to boost Australia’s science, research and cultural collaborations in the Asia-Pacific region; an assessment of Australia’s comparative advantage in the world; and country comparisons in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The analysis of STEM skills shortages will propose options aimed at increasing Australia’s productivity and global competitiveness in these fields.

Evans said the findings of the six projects “will give the Chief Scientist and PMSEIC a strong evidence-base with which they will recommend new policies that will help secure a strong, fair and productive future for Australia”.

The ARC will support the project for up to three years. The cash has been sourced through the ARC’s Linkage Learned Academies Special Projects scheme.