Budget science cuts and changes

At least $420 million will be cut from five key science and research agencies:

  • The Australian Research Council (ARC) ($74.9m)
  • CSIRO ($114.8m)
  • The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) ($120m)
  • Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) ($27.6m)
  • Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) ($7.8m)
  • Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) program ($80m)


Big science infrastructure – including leading-edge facilities like the Australia Synchrotron – has had a significant, short-term reprieve with a one year injection of $150m for 2015/16.

Australian Research Council 

The Future Fellowships scheme – for top rank mid-career researchers – will continue but on a smaller scale, down to 100 fellowships each year ($140m over four years). Importantly Future Fellowships will now be an ongoing scheme.

On the other side of the equation the ARC will be cut by $75m over three years from 2015/16 via a 3.25% ‘efficiency dividend’.

The Government has taken ARC funding out of the grants body to fund a number of specific projects, including:

  • $42m for the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University
  • $24m Antarctic Gateway Partnership between UTas, CSIRO and the Australian Antarctic Division
  • $26m will come from the ARC for dementia research, more from the NHMRC.

This will lead to a significant decline on funds available for competitive grants.

It is understood that at the end of these various projects – which run for varying periods, the intent is that the funds will return to the ARC funding base.

Other measures include:

A Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) with additional funds for medical research, will be established. Its creation is dependent on the passing of all health savings legislation, and is funded by those savings, with the target to reach a $20b capital fund by 2020. Specifically $5 from the proposed $7 Medicare co-contribution, would go to underpin the fund.

Vigorous debate has been sparked by this measure and a number of very senior scientists have questioned it and the source of the MRFF funding. STA remains concerned that other cuts across the sector are likely to affect Australia’s capacity to continue to produce the world-leading researchers needed to capitalise on such a research fund. We remain committed to a long term, planned and consistent approach to investment in science and research. We will watch the passage of this measure, and the threats to block it, very carefully.

$100m over four years has been granted for research via the Rural Research and Development Corporations.

$5m investment in the Australian Academy of Science Primary Connections and Science by Doing.

ANSTO will receive a total of $76.6m to cover the increased cost of nuclear fuel and disposal activities.

Research training scheme postgraduate research students will now make a contribution to their course costs. Higher education providers will be able to introduce fees at the rate of $3,900 per full time student for high cost courses, and $1,700 for low cost courses.

Australia-China Science and Research Fund – receives funding of $10m over four years.

Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships – cuts of $162.9m in 2017-18. 

Marine National Facility – an additional $65.7m over four years for the Marine National Facility to operate the new research vessel RV investigator. CSIRO to provide $21.1m to cover costs.

The Science for Australia’s Future program (Inspiring Australia) has been refunded to the tune of $28m over four years. Named initiatives under this scheme include: The PM’s Science Prize, National Science Week and Questacon Smart Skills. 

The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility will be re-established with $9m over three years.

Office of Water Science research programme cuts of $10m over five years will be made, with the program ending on 30 June 2016.

The National Environmental Research Programme and the Australian Climate Change Science programme will be amalgamated to form a new National Environmental Science Programme, cutting $21.7m over four years.

$845.6m of Industry support and innovation programs will be cut over 5 years including:

  • Australian Industry Participation
  • Commercialisation Australia
  • Enterprise Solutions
  • Innovation Investment Fund
  • Enterprise Connect
  • Industry Innovation Precincts
  • Textile, Clothing and Footwear Small Business and Building Innovative Capability
  • Clean Technology Innovation Program
  • Green Car Innovation Fund
  • Establishment of an ICT-enabled research laboratory
  • Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund
  • National Low Emission Coal Initiative.

One thought on “Budget science cuts and changes”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *