Science - Science Budget and nuclear issues


Budget Review 2010-11 Index

Budget 2010–11: Science

Science Budget and nuclear issues

Matthew L James

Overall national expenditure in this area amounts to $8 923 million, which is just under 2.6 per cent of total government expenditure for the year. This figure is an increase of about six per cent on the previous year. The Australian Government’s 2010–11 Science, Research and Innovation Budget Tables provide further breakdown by agencies across portfolios.[1]

Major Australian Government support for science, research and innovation continues to rise across most portfolio programs and agencies into the year ahead, although some innovation activities decline. There were essentially no new programs announced for science research, save for a contribution of $19.5 million to a new Cairns Institute–Tropical Innovation Hub and $2 million to maintain and repair the National Measurement Institute in Sydney.

The Australian Academy of Science, however, expressed concern at a lack of future funding for the International Science Linkages scheme, noting that a current Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia’s International Research Collaboration is in progress.[2]

The Budget also reveals that CSIRO total staffing will fall during the 2010–11 financial year from 5 835 to 5 706, which is a loss of 129 jobs.[3] However, it is not clear how many of these are research positions. The media has reported concerns at plans to merge the Divisions of Entomology and Sustainable Ecosystems. In a letter to a newspaper, the Science Minister reiterated that CSIRO funding is secure.[4]

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Nuclear Waste

The Government announced funding to decommission obsolete nuclear facilities operated by ANSTO at the Lucas Heights Science and Technology Centre and the National Medical Cyclotron at Camperdown. The Government will provide $9.7 million in 2010–11 to ensure that Australia complies with international best practice for decommissioning nuclear facilities. This measure follows on from $13.2 million provided in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2007–08 to initiate the decommissioning at Lucas Heights. However, ANSTO is also expected to impose an efficiency dividend on its operations amounting to $2.5 million over four years relating to administrative and corporate costs.

ANSTO staff will finish decommissioning the ‘Moata’ reactor and continue work on decommissioning the ‘HIFAR’ reactor, both at Lucas Heights, and begin the process of decommissioning the National Medical Cyclotron. The funding will be used to dismantle the facilities, support ongoing maintenance and inspections, and manage waste products. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency will oversee the decommissioning projects and ensure that rigorous safety procedures are in place.

The Government will provide $30 million over four years to enable the repatriation of reprocessed nuclear waste from the United Kingdom and France by 2016, as part of ANSTO’s spent fuel storage program. The funding includes provision for an interim storage facility. There is no announcement on the selection of a combined national low and intermediate level waste management facility previously proposed for the Northern Territory although legislation is currently before the Parliament.


[1].         Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR), The Australian Government’s 2010–11 science, research and innovation budget tables, DIISR website, viewed 12 May 2010, http://www.innovation.gov.au/General/Corporate/Documents/Budget%202010-11/2010-11ScienceResearchandInnovationBudgetTables11May.pdf

[2].         Australian Academy of Science (AAS), A missed opportunity to ramp up Australia’s research investment, media release, 11 May 2010, viewed 13 May 2010, http://www.science.org.au/news/media/12may10.html

[3].         Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2010–11: budget related paper no. 1.15:Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2010, p. 207, viewed 13 May 2010, http://www.innovation.gov.au/General/Corporate/Documents/Budget%202010-11/2010-2011_IISR_PBS_07_CSIRO.pdf

[4].         R Beeby, ‘CSIRO looks at cutting 500 jobs’, Canberra Times, 6 May 2010, viewed 17 May 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/media/pressclp/JSLW6/upload_binary/jslw60.pdf;fileType=application/pdf#search=%22CSIRO%20looks%20at%20cutting%20500%20jobs%22; R Beeby, ‘Merger sparks CSIRO job fears: cloud over 300 positions’, :Canberra Times, 20 April 2010, viewed 17 May 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/media/pressclp/QNGW6/upload_binary/qngw60.pdf;fileType=application/pdf#search=%22csiro%22; K Carr, ‘Science boost’, Canberra Times, 14 May 2010, viewed 17 May 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/media/pressclp/9CPW6/upload_binary/9cpw60.pdf;fileType=application/pdf#search=%22budget%202010%20letter%22

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