Rising red tape risks putting brakes on breakthroughs

Every dollar spent on regulatory compliance is a dollar not spent on research, so we should be wary of rising red tape that risks making it harder for universities and industry to collaborate.

Image by tstokes from Pixabay.

Science & Technology Australia commends the commitment by the Department of Home Affairs to co-design guidelines with the research sector on protecting critical infrastructure.

In its submission to the Review of the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill, STA is pleased to see the clear commitment to co-development.

But this co-development should focus on identifying potential risks not already covered by the comprehensive suite of regulations already in place for Australia’s universities, researchers, and scientists.

“That commitment to co-design guidelines with the operators of critical infrastructure is to be commended,” said Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert.

“Proactive management of risks is crucial, but we also have growing concerns that regulatory costs are mounting for Australia’s universities and industry partners.”

“Getting that balance right is essential, because every dollar spent at universities on compliance with regulatory obligations is a dollar not spent on our world-leading research.”

“That’s money that is not going into turning our globally-recognised science and technology in products, service, and jobs. It’s resources and human capital that is not being used to generate employment, boost national productivity, and help drive the post-COVID economic recovery.”

Universities and research institutes aren’t the only ones who will feel the pinch from new regulatory compliance measures.

“Added compliance will increase costs for industry partners who use the nation’s research infrastructure, at a time when the Government, business and universities all want collaboration to be as barrier-free and agile as possible,” Ms Schubert said.

“If we want to drive greater collaboration to strengthen and diversify our economy, we have to make sure we don’t inadvertently apply the handbrake.”

In its submission, STA has urged the Government to review the cost of new regulatory burdens once the sector-specific rules have been co-designed, and provide financial support to universities to support this cost.

“Providing dedicated compliance funding support to publicly-funded universities would ensure more funding is spent on research rather than red tape,” Ms Schubert said.

Read our submission to the Review of the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill here.

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