FUSION Party response to STA 2022 Federal Election Priorities
Response from the party:
“As some background One of Fusion’s core priorities is to be “Future focused”. This policy includes a range of things which can be found here:
Notably, as something not addressed in these questions, this would involve creating a Minister for the Future to steer these things beyond the current planning horizon. More details on that proposal are still available on the Science website:
Make Australia a global STEM superpower by growing R&D investment to lift Australia into the top ten OECD countries (relative to the size of the economy).
Nearly since inception, Science and now Fusion has held the policy to “Double funding for research, development, and commercialisation of new technologies.” This commitment is firm. Unfortunately this would only take us from a Government expense of ~0.6% GDP (on average) to ~1.2% GDP. This would lift us from an average gross R&D expense of ~2.1% to ~2.7%. This would only place us 12th in OECD rankings for total R&D expense relative to GDP. We do believe the flow-on effects would bump us up from there. AGREED (In Theory) Notably though: We don’t have the numbers to know where that places us in the OECD in terms of exclusively government expense, nor the modelling to know for sure if the flow-on effects of that would bump us up, perhaps you do?
Invest in a $2.4 billion Research Translation Fund to drive income-generating commercialisation of Australian research and create thousands of new jobs.
We recognise that the major area we’re lacking in is funding and incentives to turn discovery research into useful applications that are actually adopted and allowed to translate into benefiting society. It makes perfect sense to earmark a portion of our proposed increase for explicitly this purpose. AGREED
Craft a comprehensive plan across Government to coordinate R&D strategic investment, policy and roles to seize competitive strategic advantage for Australia.
This would be a natural outgrowth of the Minister for the Future policy. AGREED
Embolden discovery research by boosting investment in the major grant agencies to catapult breakthroughs and secure the science workforce with a bridge to the other side of the pandemic.
As a consequence of 1 & 2 this is covered by default. AGREED
Tackle the broken system of insecure work tied to competitive research grants especially for Australia’s early career scientists – the future of the profession. Improving the research grant process has been our policy for a long time. We are encouraged by the recent adoption of EOI’s as a method for narrowing down potential grant recipients more efficiently, with less time cost for researchers. We could do better though. AGREED
Commit to keep funding the national science agencies in the coming term by at least current levels of investment indexed by CPI. As a consequence of 1, 2 & 4 this is covered by default. AGREED
Develop a comprehensive plan to transition to a net-zero emissions economy and safeguard Australia’s unique biodiversity. Please see our Climate Emergency Policy: https://www.fusionparty.org.au/climate_emergency and https://www.fusionparty.org.au/ecological_restoration
Renew a long-term investment in the nation’s vital research infrastructure through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. This would appear to be an obvious extension of our positions in 1, 2, 3, 4, & 6. AGREED
Craft a plan to tackle a decline in STEM achievement of Australian school students and stop the brain drain of our children out of STEM.
In our view improper funding models for schools are a key contributor to this issue, and it’s an area we are committed to tackling. Please see our Education for Life Policy: https://www.fusionparty.org.au/education_for_life AGREED
Make a further commitment to programs to boost diversity and inclusion in STEM to ensure the nation draws on the widest possible pool of talent. Existing programs are doing excellent work in this space, and we can definitely commit to continuing to support them. Perhaps the more pressing issue to tackle is the issue of how grant applications are handled with respect to diversity and inclusion. During early career stages the influence of government grants and associated processes appears to minimise bias in the process, but beyond this at the independent laboratory head stage, there appear to be gender and other biases in the peer review system that allocates the funding. Ultimately, drawing on the widest possible pool of talent only helps if we can also retain that pool into lifelong careers. PARTIAL (With Justification)”