Manufacturing News

Better not bigger research investment needed, Chubb says

Australia’s chief scientist, Ian Chubb, has said that research funding levels should be examined and investment refocussed following cuts.

Speaking to The Australian Financial Review, Chubb said funding, currently at $8.6 billion annually, should only be increased if it was for an identifiable purpose.

“If there is the case for more money, you make the case for more money for a purpose, rather than more money simply because you could spend it,” he told The AFR.

Speaking about cuts to the CSIRO, universities and elsewhere in the May federal budget, Chubb said these could be lamented, but this wasn’t the first time budgets had been cut. It was a chance to move ahead and reinvest strategically.

“How do you pick the areas about which you have to have flourishing?” he said.

The federal government’s national industry investment and competitiveness agenda is expected to be released later this year, and the areas it will cover will include research/industry links, which Chubb and the government agree need improvement.

Earlier this month Chubb, who has been Chief Scientist since 2011, released his Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future report.

The report’s four pillars were focussed on building competitiveness, supporting education and training, increasing research potential and strengthening international engagement.

Industry minister Ian Macfarlane said a formal response to the report would not be given, but the government would be releasing initiatives shortly that “reinforced” Chubb’s recommendations.

Areas of competitive strength to be targeted by the government include agribusiness, energy, mining technology, medical technology and advanced manufacturing.

Image: Fairfax

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