Peak lobby’s smart sell for science and tech

Science and Technology Australia occupies the policy high-ground on applied research investment ahead of a report to the federal government on translational funding

In the lead-up to next year’s federal election the lobby calls on political parties to commit to investing in a $2.4bn research translation fund.

The ask also includes:

* “boosting investment in the major grant agencies to “catapult breakthroughs” (that’s “catapult” as in the UK research translation programme)

* index funding for national science agencies by CPI

* government addressing “the broken system of insecure work” that occurs with employment tied to competitive research grants.

Great timing, start politics: STA’s proposal sets a context for the report on a research translation strategy, commissioned a year back by former education minister Dan Tehan. His successor Alan Tudge, a minister who likes to shake policies up, may welcome new ideas from STA if the translation plan does not come with anything bold.

STA also continues to capitalise on community support for science in pandemic-time. As Chief Executive Misha Shubert put it, in STA’s budget-bid, “with the crucial role of science front and centre in the public mind, it’s time to secure the science capabilities we need to face the crisis after COVID – and the ones after that.”

“As we come out of the pandemic, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enable science and technology to boost our economy, secure Australia’s intellectual property rights, and prepare us for whatever crisis comes next,” (CMM February 23).

It’s a message that STA is well placed to deliver to the present government, what with science and technology being considered as job-generators and the lobby being independent of universities – which are not exactly top or even bottom, of the pops with the Morrison Government.