Plibersek piles on the pressure over grant announcements

Labor’s education shadow asks if the government is so keen on industry-linked research why is long-awaited funding not announced

“We have got researchers trying to work out whether they have got a job in January,” Ms Plibersek told ABC Melbourne Radio yesterday.

“This is something completely within the government’s control, they announce when these grants have been successful or not and they are delaying. This is the latest these grants have been announced in 30 years,” she said.

Ms Plibersek joined the chorus of complaint which commenced when now stood-down education minister Alan Tudge did not decide in November on Australian Research Council recommendations for Discovery and Linkage grants plus Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities funding in November.

But that appears to be because he did not get the paperwork. A Senate-required report from the Australian Research Council on grant recommendations sent to the minister for November made no mention of these programmes.

Whatever the reason, the absence of an announcement on grants, notably the industry-partnered Linkage programme, is not a good look for the government, what with a research translation announcement anticipated.

As Ms Plibersek put it. “These grants include industry linkage grants, which are exactly where you get that collaboration between universities and business. … Why would any business do business with this government when they can’t say whether there’s going to be money in January for research projects that are supposed to start next year?”

So, when will researchers and industry get the word on funding?

Last night acting education minister Stuart Robert’s office advised,applications for the Discovery Projects and Linkage Projects are to be assessed, applicants will be advised of the outcomes and an announcement will be make in due course.”

“To be assessed” does not read like a synonym for soon.