Calls for research system redesign

The Australian Academy of Science wants a “plausible redesign of the research system.” There are 200 reasons why

That’s the number of federal government science programmes, spread across 13 portfolios. “With multiple ministers and departments having key responsibilities,” it is, the academy argues, “an overly bureaucratised and inefficient system.

The academy acknowledges present reviews of universities and the ARC but states establishing a “national priority” to lift research and development is “urgently required.”

“There is a particular Australian disease that infects the performance of our science system. It is the tendency to respond to big questions with tiny thinking. In the science system, that is demonstrated by the proliferation of programmes throughout the Australian Government. Moving the dial on our R&D investment will not be achieved by another small grants program or research initiative,” the academy asserts in its budget submission.

And it points to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Medical Research Future Fund as examples of what is needed. The CEFC, in particular, “has helped turbocharge the commercialisation of science and leveraged additional investments from the private sector” and will serve as a model for the National Reconstruction Fund. (As for the Economic Accelerator programme, it lacks scale).

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering broadly agrees

An “independent review of Australia’s research sector”  is the “critical recommendation” of its budget bid. Its purpose would be to “determine the most effective ways” increase research and development spending to an “internationally competitive 3 per cent or so of GDP.