Science and innovation


Budget Review 2009-10 Index

Budget 2009 10: Science and innovation

Matthew James and Louise Emmett

Overview
Super Science Support
Innovation—Powering Ideas: an Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century
Bureau of Meteorology
Antarctica
Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre—extension

Overview

Scientists, particularly space scientists, astronomers and biologists, should be well pleased with the Budget’s increased spending for support of technology, science and innovation. In general there is a 25 per cent increase for investment in these science sectors, focused on space and astronomy, marine research, molecular biology, and nanotechnology, all to facilitate technology creation and commercialisation. The Government announced a new Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute and establishment of the Royal Institution of Australia, along with the various initiatives above under a Super Science banner.[1] The Science and Innovation Budget Tables provide further breakdowns by agencies across portfolios.[2]

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) may have problems, while it gains a $45 million increase in funding this year, there is a loss of $180 million due to reductions in funding from private and other non–government players. Nonetheless, CSIRO may benefit from a large payout following its legal success in pursuing 14 computer companies over their unlicensed use of its patented wireless telecom technology. This will be accounted for in next year’s CSIRO annual report as income from royalties.

Super Science Support

Space Science and Astronomy

Space and astronomy receive an allocation of $160.5 million including $80.0 million in funds for a new astronomy–computing program, at an Australian National Centre of Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Science in Perth, in conjunction with the SKA telescope project; $20.9 million in extra funds for the Anglo–Australian Observatory, with Australia to take over sole responsibility for the facility, plus $10.0 million in new instruments; a four year $40 million Australian Space Research Program; and a $8.6 million Space Policy Unit to coordinate national space policy.[3] The latter two initiatives can be seen as a response to the critical findings of the 2008 Senate Economics Committee’s Inquiry into the Current State of Australia's Space Science & Industry Sector.[4]

Marine Science

As part of the Marine and Climate initiative (detailed further in the ‘Climate change and energy’ brief in this Budget Review), $120 million is provided for CSIRO to build a new deep water research vessel to replace Australia’s existing 38 year old craft which itself receives $29.6 million for maintenance over three years while the new vessel is completed. As well, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has $55 million in new infrastructure funding over three years to enable expansion of experimental seawater facilities at its Townsville headquarters.[5]

Future Industries

This initiative provides $504 million, including $115 million for bio–molecular, drug and bioinformatics research facilities; as well as an $8 million European Molecular Biology Laboratory Australia Partner Laboratory; a new National Enabling Technologies Strategy worth $38.1 million; some $62 million for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) neutron beam facilities; $50 million in support for nanotechnology research; and $182 million in funds for advanced Information and Communication Technology (ICT) platforms. The latter investment is at the National ICT Australia (NICTA) research and commercialisation facility which receives, in total, $185.5 million over four years from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and the Australian Research Council (ARC). The National Enabling Technologies Strategy funds new biotechnology and nanotechnology laboratories.[6]

Fellowships

There is $27.2 million over four years for 100 new Super Science Fellowships worth $72 500 a year for early–career young researchers. These will be offered in space science and astronomy, marine and climate science, and future industries in life sciences and nanotechnology.[7]

Other Measures

An extra $11.3 million for Questacon, Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre will support its activities.[8] For the establishment of a Royal Institution of Australia, akin to the British Royal Institution national science exchange, there is $15.0 million.[9] The Government will also provide $50.0 million over four years for a competitive grant program for the bionic eye in Australia.[10] The program will be established under the ARC Special Research Initiatives Scheme. The Prime Minister’s 2020 Summit identified the bionic eye as a significant opportunity to improve the quality of life for the vision–impaired.

Innovation—Powering Ideas: an Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century

The Federal Government used the Budget to launch this new paper on innovation in response to the 2008 ‘Cutler’ report Venturous Australia: Building Strength in Innovation and various related reviews of the industry and education sectors.[11] The Powering Ideas paper canvasses proposed improvements and incremental changes to the existing National Innovation System but does not link to significant Budget funding.[12]

There is $52 million to establish a Collaborative Research Networks program to help smaller and regional universities develop their research capacity by partnering with other institutions.[13] Some $196.1 million over four years is to foster a Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute as a means of commercialising Australian research and early stage company development.[14] Note that there are some funding increases under the program An Innovation and Higher Education System for the 21st Century for the Education Investment Fund, and the Sustainable Research Excellence in Universities that are shared between the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research portfolios.

Bureau of Meteorology

Weather forecasting will be improved with the investment of $94.7 million. The commitment provides $30.5 million over five years (including $5.1 million in 2013–14) for next generation weather forecasting and warning technology that will allow new seven–day forecasts to be available to 650 cities and towns across Australia via interactive maps on the Bureau’s website.[15] The national roll–out will allow increased accuracy and responsiveness to the public and emergency services organisations during emergency events such as bushfires.[16]

Four new radars at Croker Island/Maningrida in the Northern Territory, Hobart, Mount Isa and Wollongong will be installed and integrated into the current radar network over a five year period from 2009–10 to 2012–13 at a total cost of $48 million over seven years.[17] The new radars will address priority radar coverage gaps. In addition, the Bureau will now retain revenue of $16.1 million over four years from 1 January 2010 for providing specialised weather services to the aviation and defence sectors.[18]

Antarctica

Funding for Australia’s Antarctic science and research program is to be increased by an extra $25.2 million over two years, provided to the Australian Antarctic Division.[19] In 2009–10 funding of $11.7 million will continue the operations of the Airlink between Australia and Antarctica.[20] This funding underpins scientific research, maintenance of infrastructure at the three Antarctic stations, the Wilkins aerodrome and the station on Macquarie Island.[21] The Government committed $46.3 million over four years in the 2005–06 Budget to construct a 3.6 kilometre glacial blue–ice runway at Wilkins aerodrome, 70 kilometres from the Casey station, and to fund the Airlink.[22] Funding for the Airlink program beyond 2009–10 will be considered after the 2009 flying season.[23]

Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre—extension

As agreed with the Australian Greens during the Nation Building and Jobs Plan negotiations in February, the Government will provide $15.0 million over three years from 2010–11 to the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) in Melbourne.[24] The CRC’s previous funding of $28.9 million covered 2003–2010. The CRC coordinates research on bushfires, focussing on prevention and suppression of bushfires, community awareness, and protection of life and property.

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) and the Bushfire CRC are currently seeking partners in a bid to the Federal Government for long term funding.[25] Apart from $15 million for the Bushfire CRC there is no additional funding for the Cooperative Research Centres program.



[1].    K Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research), Super science initiative, media release, 12 May 2009, viewed 19 May 2009, http://minister.innovation.gov.au/Carr/Pages/SUPERSCIENCEINITIATIVE.aspx

[2].    Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, The Australian Government’s 2009–10 Science and Innovation Budget Tables, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Canberra 2009, viewed 18 May 2009,
http://www.innovation.gov.au/General/Corporate/Documents/2009-10SITables.pdf

[3].    K Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research), Super science – space and astronomy, media release, 12 May 2009, viewed 19 May 2009,
http://minister.innovation.gov.au/Carr/Pages/
SUPERSCIENCESPACEANDASTRONOMY.aspx

[4].    Senate Standing Committee on Economics, Inquiry into the current state of Australia's space science & industry sector, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, viewed 18 May 2009, http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/economics_ctte/space_08/info.htm

[5].    K Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research), Super science – marine and climate, media release, 12 May 2009, viewed 19 May 2009, http://minister.innovation.gov.au/Carr/Pages/SUPERSCIENCEMARINEANDCLIMATE.aspx

[6].    K Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research), Super science – future industries, media release, 12 May 2009, viewed 19 May 2009, http://minister.innovation.gov.au/Carr/Pages/SUPERSCIENCEFUTUREINDUSTRIES.aspx

[7].    Australian Government, ‘Part 2: Expense measures’, Budget measures: budget paper no.2: 2009–2010, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2009, p. 362, viewed 19 May 2009, http://www.aph.gov.au/budget/2009-10/content/bp2/download/bp_2.pdf  

[8].    Carr, Super science initiative.

[9].    Budget measures: budget paper no.2: 2009–2010, p. 366.

[10]. Budget measures: budget paper no.2: 2009–2010, p. 364; K Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) and N Roxon (Minister for Health and Ageing), 2020 gives research boost for bionic eye, media release, 22 April 2009, viewed 18 May 2009,
http://minister.innovation.gov.au/Carr/Pages/
2020GIVESRESEARCHBOOSTFORBIONICEYE.aspx
; note that the latter source states that $50.7 million will be provided while the budget papers allow only $50.0 million. DIISR has advised that the additional $700 000 is provided for as part of their departmental administrative expenses.

[11]. Cutler &Company Pty Ltd, Venturous Australia: building strength in innovation, report prepared for the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Canberra, 2008, viewed 18 May 2009, http://www.innovation.gov.au/innovationreview/Documents/NIS_review_Web3.pdf

[12]. Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Powering ideas: an innovation agenda for the 21st century, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Canberra, 2009, viewed 18 May 2009,
http://www.innovation.gov.au/innovationreview/Documents/PoweringIdeas_fullreport.pdf

[13]. K Carr ((Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science), Collaborative research networks, budget fact sheet, 12 May 2009, viewed 19 May 2009,
http://www.innovation.gov.au/General/Corporate/
Documents/collaborativeresearch_budgetfactsheet0910.pdf

[14]. K Carr, (Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science), Making ideas reality: Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute, media release, 12 May 2009, viewed 19 May 2009, http://minister.innovation.gov.au/Carr/Pages/ MAKINGIDEASREALITYCOMMONWEALTHCOMMERCIALISATIONINSTITUTE.aspx

[15]. P Garrett (Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts), $94.7 million boost for Bureau of Meteorology, media release, 12 May 2009, viewed 19 May 2009, http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/garrett/2009/budmr20090512f.html

[16]Budget measures: budget paper no.2: 2009–2010, p. 193.

[17]. Budget measures: budget paper no.2: 2009–2010, p. 193.

[18]. Budget measures: budget paper no.2: 2009–2010, p. 192.

[19]. Budget measures: budget paper no.2: 2009–2010, p. 198.

[20]. Budget measures: budget paper no.2: 2009–2010, p. 190.

[21]   Australian Antarctic Division, $36.9 million to keep Australia’s Antarctic program on track, media release, 13 May 2009, viewed 19 May 2009, http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=36333&source=17&rank=1

[22]. Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2005–06: fact sheet: Antarctic Air Link, Commonwealth of Australia, 2005, viewed 19 May 2009, http://www.environment.gov.au/about/publications/budget/2005/factsheet-airlink.html

[23]   Budget measures: budget paper no.2: 2009–2010, p. 190.

[24]. Budget measures: budget paper no.2: 2009–2010, p. 364.

[25]. Bushfire CRC, ‘Proposal for a new Cooperative Research Centre’,  Bushfire CRC website, viewed 19 May 2009, http://www.bushfirecrc.com/rebid_section/index.html


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