Chapter 1


On 9 February 2022, the Senate referred the Australian Research Council Amendment (Ensuring Research Independence) Bill 2018 (the bill) to the Education and Employment Legislation Committee (committee) for inquiry and report by 15 March 2022.1
The bill was originally introduced as a private senator's bill by Senator Mehreen Faruqi in the 45th Parliament. It was restored to the Notice Paper in the 46th Parliament on 4 July 2019.2
On 15 March 2022, the committee presented a progress report requesting that the Senate grant an extension of time to report until 21 March 2022.

Purpose of the bill

The bill would amend the Australian Research Council Act 2001 (the Act) to remove Ministerial discretion from research grants administered by the Australian Research Council (ARC) by providing that the Minister must approve a research proposal and its associated expenditure if that proposal has been recommended for approval by the ARC.3
In her second reading speech, Senator Faruqi explained the rationale for the introduction of the bill:
No Minister should be able to dictate which research projects get funded and which ones don't. The true test of academic freedom is that it must be free from political interference, no matter who is in Government. It should be based only on an independent, rigorous assessment process.4

Conduct of the inquiry

In accordance with its usual practice, the committee advertised the inquiry on its website and wrote to relevant individuals and stakeholders inviting submissions by 25 February 2022.
The committee received 85 submissions which are listed at Appendix 1. The public submissions are available on the committee's website.
The committee held a public hearing in Canberra on 9 March 2022. A list of witnesses who appeared at this hearing can be found at Appendix 2.

Structure of the report

This report comprises three chapters. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the bill and the context for its introduction. Chapter 3 examines the principal issues raised by stakeholders and sets out the committee view.

Notes on references

References in this report to the Committee Hansard are to the proof transcripts. Please note that page numbers may vary between the proof and official Hansard transcripts.


The committee thanks those individuals and organisations who contributed to this inquiry by preparing written submissions and giving evidence at the public hearing.

  • 1
    Journals of the Senate, No. 135, 9 February 2022, p. 4508.
  • 2
    Journals of the Senate, No. 3, 4 July 2019, p. 89.
  • 3
    Australian Research Council Amendment (Ensuring Research Independence) Bill 2018, Explanatory Memorandum, p. 1.
  • 4
    Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Senate Hansard, 15 November 2018, p. 8281.

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