More or less, from the Medical Research Future Fund

With $21.4bn in the kitty researchers are always interested in who is wearing the cat’s pyjamas and what they cost

In particular people have been looking at legislation before parliament for change that could inadvertently or otherwise assist some research interests more, or less, than others.

The changes in working out who gets what all appear based on the fund experience so far – extending the duration for priorities and the fund’s strategy, for example.

But there are changes to how much there will be in grants in any given year. Now the Future Fund Board (which manages the MRFF) decides what amount will be allocated, using the Reserve Bank’s cash rate target plus 2 per cent.

But the proposed bill changes this, setting a new investment mandate and specifying a maximum spend of $650m a year, which the minister can change, by a legislative disallowable instrument (parliament, generally the Senate, can knock it back). “While this would increase the risk of losses in the short term, it would also increase expected earnings and support the perpetual funding objective over the long term,” the explanatory memorandum for the bill states.

Which will be good – unless it isn’t.