Burnet Institute has welcomed the Federal Government’s continuing commitment to the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), and support for COVID-19 research and vaccines in Australia and the region, announced in the 2020-21 Federal Budget.
Initiatives relating to the heath and medical research and foreign aid sectors, announced by Federal Treasurer, The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP include:
- Investment of the balance required to fully capitalise the Medical Research Future Fund to AUD$20 billion
- AUD$42 million over two years from 2019-20 to support medical research and vaccine development in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- The COVID-19 Recovery Fund, worth AUD$304.7 million for the Pacific and Timor-Leste over two years
- AUD$23.2 million over three years from 2020-21 to support development of national immunisation policies in the Pacific, Timor-Leste, and several Southeast Asian countries, and
“For the MRFF to grow as it has from 2015 through to full capitalisation of $20 billion today, with the expectation that it’s going to continue to grow over the forward estimates to least $21 billion is incredibly good news,” Professor Crabb said.
“While there’s always going to be debate around how the proceeds are spent, we can’t deny the nation building element of an in-perpetuity fund that can be shaped by the sector and by the government of the day as it matures.
“This is really significant and a key stage of the journey.”
Professor Crabb also acknowledged the government’s support for R&D tax incentives, describing it as “a crucial scheme that promotes investment in the translation of science from the discovery toward a product that is useful for people”.
He said the COVID-19 Recovery Fund was a positive among ‘mixed news’ on foreign aid.
“We warmly welcome an emphasis on the emergency in the region, but there’s a lot more to go to repair the gouging from the last five years in the aid program,” Professor Crabb said.
“We still strongly support a big shift toward improving our aid to gross national income ratio, and reform of how aid is spent.
“So the news is mixed, but overall a step in the right direction for which we congratulate (Foreign Minister) Marise Payne and (Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Alex Hawke and the government.”