Go back

Australian Parliament moves to protect science funding

The Australian Parliament has passed a motion to protect science and research funding from further cuts and freezes.

The motion, put forward by Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt, was passed on 14 February with a lack of opposition indicating that there was no need for a vote.

The move came a week after Labour angered the Greens by reportedly blocking the vote, originally due on 6 February.

Bandt called on Treasurer Wayne Swan to guarantee that science and research funding will be protected this financial year, and to rule out any attempt to defer, freeze or pause Australian Research Council, National Health and Medical Research Council and other science and research grants.

The motion is not binding on the government but the Greens are considering legislation to enforce it.

“As the decline in revenue continues to put pressure on the Budget, the government must heed the Parliament’s call to protect the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council and other areas of research from any cuts,” said Bandt in a statement.

Despite overwhelming support for the motion, incoming science minister Chris Bowen criticised it for failing to recognise the government’s commitment to research.

“We have maintained a record level of investment in science and research despite global economic challenges,” a spokesperson told reporters.

The motion is a response to the Treasury’s decision to cut AU$499 million from its research spending commitments in October 2012.