CRCs see further cut in federal budget

The federal government has again cut the
CRC program, moving $17 million to other programs, in yesterday’s budget.

The Australian reports that the
quarter-century old CRC program, which links research capability to industry
through projects, will see the amount cut this year from $147 million to $130
million in 2017. However, it is scheduled to increase to $167 million the year after.

Money will be re-allocated this year to the Australian Synchotron and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, according to the report.

This follows the 2014 budget announcement
of an $80 million reduction in the program over the four-year forward estimates
period.

Responding to the announcement, CEO of the association, Tony Peacock, tweeted, “Extremely
disappointed that CRCs were further cut. At a loss to understand government
words on industry-led research and their actions.”

Industry minister Ian Macfarlane has been
critical of the direction of unnamed CRC projects in the past, claiming last October that, “some of them basically have gone off on their own
path”.

He has said some will terminate or be folded into the new Industry Growth Centres program.

In a statement last night, Macfarlane
said the five planned growth centres, “in
food and agribusiness; advanced manufacturing; mining equipment, technology and
services; oil, gas and energy resources; and medical technologies and
pharmaceuticals will help drive the transformation of Australian industry.”

A review of the CRC program under David Miles, a former head of Innovation Australia, was announced in September, and is currently with the minister.

The ABC reports that the spending of $730
million announced for the program over the next four years will depend on the
result of the Miles Review.

The Innovative Manufacturing CRC proposal
was recommended for funding by the CRC committee 11 months ago, according to opposition industry spokesman Kim Carr, but no announcement has been made on
its future.

There has been speculation that an
announcement about the CRC program will be made at the program’s 25th anniversary event later this month in Canberra.

Image: Nathan Dyer, News Corp Australia