Tehan’s Australia research sell

The Morrison Government has a new programme to “recognise the importance of research into Australian society, history and culture” 

Some $12m of ARC funding will go to the grants, with cash to kick-in from October.  There will be $20 000 to $100 000 for up to 40 projects per annum for three years. Perhaps this will mean rebadging money for Discovery Grants, but with more addressing Australiana than would otherwise be funded.

This is smart politics by Education Minister Dan Tehan, covering the political bases that can be covered.

Mr Tehan presents himself as a true believer in job-generating research (CMM September 2), which helps with the STEM lobbies.

And this announcement will also help with coalition backbenchers inclined to scoff at research projects they cannot promote in their electorates or that they deem insufficiently patriotic. With a Senate committee inquiry into, “nationhood, national identity and democracy” Mr Tehan appears to anticipate criticism of research that is not wrapped in the flag.

The new funding will also be hard for HASS and Australian studies peak bodies to ignore, addressing complaints that their capacities are too oft ignored – “we welcome the announcement … and stand ready to help,” the Australian Academy of the Humanities tweeted yesterday.

The minister also has evidence to answer allegations that research will only be accepted if it is wrapped in the flag.

Last week the ARC jointly funded a Linkage project with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, “that highlights the Hawke era to show the ACTU’s history as one of transition to governance, we aim to reveal the potential of the Australian labour movement to effect change,” (CMM January 20).  There is also $230 000 for Elizabeth MacFarlane and colleagues’ project for the University of Melbourne and the National Library on  contemporary Australian comics, which “expects to generate new knowledge about narrative innovations comics use to reflect diverse national identities and cultures in Australian society.”


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