Australian science and technology sectors talk of ‘revival’ as Federal Government splashes the cash in Budget
It was 2013 and the Coalition, under the leadership of Tony Abbott, had just taken power.
The new prime minister unveiled his cabinet, what he called one of the most experienced in Australian history.
But one portfolio was missing.
For the first time since 1931, there was no minister for science.
The CSIRO, and the country’s climate science body was significantly watered down.
A year later, the science portfolio would be reinstated, but for many in the science community, the damage was done.
Fast forward to today and it’s a different story: the Morrison Government is winning widespread praise from the science and technology sectors.
As soon as the Budget landed this week the praise started flowing from science bodies across the country.
The Budget would spur a “research revival”, according to Science & Technology Australia, Australia’s peak body for science and tech industries.
It said it was a “shot in the arm for Australia’s job-creating research capability”.
The Australian Academy of Science described the Budget as “a significant response to the crisis facing Australia’s scientists”.
Scientists focused on climate change were less supportive, with some enraged by new subsidies for fossil fuels including coal and gas and little additional funding for renewable energy or electric vehicles.
But when it comes to research and development, the Government has delivered much of what scientists were asking for.
Take CSIRO, for example.
About 40 per cent of its funding comes from commercial arrangements, much of which it is worried will disappear as the economic impacts of COVID-19 start to bite.
As a result, the science agency warned it could lose as much as $100 million this financial year.
So in the Budget the Government increased CSIRO funding by $459.2 million over the next four years.
“CSIRO is this incredible national asset because