It is no surprise that there is little new for science in tonight’s Federal Budget. After the announcement of the $1.1 Billion National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) last December, it was unlikely additional measures would follow.
Some measures include:
$110.5 million to Geoscience Australia to produce geographic modeling of mineral, groundwater and petroleum resources across South Australia and Northern Australia;
Tax cuts for small and medium-sized businesses, which will reap benefits for small science and technology-based ventures that are driving innovating;
$15 million for a national carp control plan;
The Bureau of Meteorology will receive funding to maintain its supercomputer capabilities, with the total amount commercial-in-confidence;
The Great Barrier Reef Plan and Trust will get a $171 million boost, extending the program to make the reef more resilient;
$12 million for an extension of the Australian Astronomical Observatory, taking it out to 2019/20
(The CRC program is described as providing some of the savings to fund the AAO. The exact amount is not clear.)
Many members will be interested in the fate of the controversial higher education reforms of 2014/15 (full fee deregulation and a 20 per cent cut to funding per student place). The 20 per cent cut has remained in the assumptions that underlie the Budget. However, policy decisions have not been finalised on these and other significant higher education issues. Instead, the Government has issued a paper as part of the Budget. “Driving Innovation, Fairness and Excellence in Australian Higher Education” canvasses a wide range of issues and options, with policy determinations to be finalised by year’s end.
There will be initiatives of interest to members buried in the detailed Portfolio Budget Statements for individual Federal Departments. Direct links to all of these documents are included.
As usual we welcome any input, hints and useful intelligence as we continue to dig through the documents in the coming days.
Catriona Jackson, STA CEO.