Australia’s leading scientists have urged the Australian Government to commit to a bold and ambitious structural reform agenda for science, including a target to boost investment in research and development (R&D) and an independent review of the Australian science system.
In a pre-budget submission for 2023-24, the Australian Academy of Science calls on the government to formally adopt a target of 3% of GDP invested in R&D from the present (2020) of 1.79% (0.92% business, 0.61 universities and 0.18% government); all need to increase.
Growing to the target would act as a key driver of economic growth, innovation and competitiveness. But it would need a change in policies.
The Academy also recommends a comprehensive and independent review of the Australian science and research sector, which currently operates on a 30-year-old system.
While the government has commissioned reviews of the Australian university system, science and research priorities, diversity in STEM, and the Australian Research Council, linking these endeavours to a national priority to lift our R&D performance is urgently required.
With R&D expenditure falling over the past decade, Academy President Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC PresAA FREng FTSE said stronger investment would help Australia to become a knowledge-based economy, in line with other OECD countries that have a greater dependence on knowledge, information and high-skill levels.
“Australia should decide the skills and capabilities we need to build and the research strengths we need to sustain them,” Professor Jagadish said.
“These recommendations will take time to implement, but are achievable, and we hope the upcoming budget helps to reposition Australian science to advance national prosperity and global competitiveness.”
The Academy’s other recommendations in its pre-budget submission for 2023-24 are:
- Policies should be implemented to increase the complexity of the Australian economy and create more R&D intensive enterprises.
- Collect data on Australian science frequently and comprehensively.
- Prioritise major strategic investments to drive an uplift in investment in R&D.
On 25 January 2023, the Academy made a submission to the 2023-24 Federal Budget.