Going local: the new way to announce research funding

Griffith U announced its three Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award winners on Tuesday. But there wasn’t a word from the ARC

Cue head-explosion among DECRA applicants sweating on announcements at other universities.

So how come Griffith U got to go?: Turns out the government has a new arrangement, with local MPs (presumably Coalition ones or duty senators in the case of campuses in Opposition electorates) making good-news research announcements.

This makes political sense: Education Minister Dan Tehan, is keen to enlist his government colleagues in the cause of research. “If I can put a compelling case to my colleagues that we are absolutely instrumental in driving productivity in this nation for the next decade then I think that we can get the support that we need to grow the sector,” he told a meeting of vice chancellors in August, (CMM September 2).

In Griffith U’s case the Liberal member for Moncrieff, and Griffith U graduate, Angie Bell had the information, but if she has announced the awards CMM can’t find it – Minister Tehan issued a statement about the Griffith U grants lunch-time yesterday.

But what, CMM wonders, would happen in the hypothetical case of a grant for research on the environmental impact of fossil fuel to an academic in an electorate with a pro-coal local member?

And when do we get a complete list? When all announcements are made by the minister, or “government representative” the ARC advised yesterday.

It’s good that Griffith U’s DECRA winners are working in areas that MPs can sell as meeting the government’s national interest test;

Jamie Ranse: predicting emergency healthcare demand of mass community events

Chin Hong Ooi: cell culture in bio-manufacturing

Hoang Phuong Phan: nano-sensors for electronics in harsh physical environments

Laura Grogan: wildlife disease management

Quoc Viet Hung; ways for government and media to monitor fake news


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