Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Budget Delivers Austerity Measures for Science

By Ian Lowe

Science agencies were delivered substantial funding cuts in the 2015 Budget.

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The Budget was not a happy one for science. Hundreds of millions have been cut from key science and research agencies, while the promised increase for medical research depends on controversial savings in the health care system.

The only positive response I found was from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, which received a multi-million dollar allocation for new infrastructure at Lucas Heights. Other large agencies suffered, with CSIRO’s funding cut by another $110 million after losing out in last year’s Budget, while the Defence Science and Technology Organisation also lost $120 million.

The outlook is gloomy for basic research. The Australian Research Council’s budget has been cut by $75 million over 3 years. In the now traditional weasel-words, this funding cut was described as an “efficiency dividend”. Presumably the ARC is expected to allocate its funds more efficiently, perhaps by eliminating tiresome procedures like peer review.

The Future Fellowships scheme for top-rank mid-career researchers will continue, but its scale has been cut back to 100 fellowships a year.

As has been done in other areas like the arts, the government has taken money from the ARC’s budget for competitive grant allocations to fund a few direct grants for specific projects like the Institute for Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.