Is Australia’s R&D future at risk?

Today’s The Australian newspaper contains an interesting article penned by former Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, questioning whether recent funding cuts to universities and research institutes is in the nation’s best interest.

The Federal Government has on numerous occasions pledged its commitment to promoting and encouraging local R&D, most recently through the proposed introduction of 10 Innovation Precincts, aimed at nurturing R&D activities between various organisations and institutes, with $504m of funding allocated. Such initiatives are commendable.

However, Beattie believes that the Government’s ongoing and very public commitment to R&D, is at odds with the recent decision to cut funding to universities and research institutes.

The precarious economic climate, paired with the unforeseen decline in Government revenues, has forced Canberra to make several difficult and unpopular decisions regarding the re-allocation and removal of funds from numerous programs. Such cuts are never popular.

Despite the necessity of such cuts, one would be hard pressed to argue that investments in education for future generations could be regarded as either poor or misguided. Are there not other areas where the long-term impact of funding cuts would be less detrimental to the international standing and competitiveness of Australia and its workforce?

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May 4, 2013.

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