Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio
This chapter summarises certain key areas of interest raised during the
committee's consideration of budget estimates for the 2019–20 financial year
for the Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio. This chapter of the report
follows the order of proceedings and is an indicative, not exhaustive, account
of issues examined.
On 5 April 2019, the committee heard evidence from Senator the Hon.
Matthew Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, along with
officers from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (the department)
and agencies including:
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science—Program 3:
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science—Program 1:
Supporting Science and Commercialisation; and
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science—Program 2:
Growing Business Investment and Improving Business Capability.
Senators present during the hearing included Senator Hume (Chair),
Senator Ketter (Deputy Chair), and Senators Carr and Patrick.
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science—Programs 1, 2, and 3
The committee asked the department for an update on the Australian Made
logo and its application to complementary medicines.
Departmental officials explained that the government proposes to make new
regulations to address this issue. Specifically, the new regulations will
define particular processes as meeting the test for substantial transformation
of a product under the Australian consumer law.
We have been required to undertake research and seek legal
advice to ensure that the proposed solution is effective in terms of meeting
industry's desire to have access to the Australian made logo for export
The decision to proceed with the creation of new regulations was signed
off by the Prime Minister on 2 April 2019, following the recommendation of the Complementary
Departmental officials highlighted that the introduction of new
regulations would rely not only on the Federal government, but on the state and
territory governments as well:
...the Australian consumer law is a single law administered by
both the Commonwealth and the state and territory governments. To amend that
law, there is an intergovernmental agreement that requires the support of the
Commonwealth and three of the state and territory governments. To make
regulations or to change the law, the government is required to consult with
the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs.
The committee also asked the department about possible implications of
the proposed regulations on current compliance activities in relation to the Australian
Made logo. Officials noted that compliance activities are undertaken by the
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and explained:
...the ACCC is an independent regulator which sets its
particular compliance activities and its priorities. The
ACCC, in seeing that the government has proposed a significant change, would
take that into account in determining their compliance activities.
Research and Development tax
The committee discussed the proposed legislation for changes to the
Research and Development (R&D) tax incentive; noting the committee's recent
inquiry into this legislation contained in the Treasury Laws Amendment (Making
Sure Multinationals Pay Their Fair Share of Tax in Australia) Bill 2018 (the
bill). In its report on the bill, the committee made the following
The committee recommends that the Senate defer consideration
of the bill until further examination and analysis of the impact of schedules
1–3 is undertaken. In particular, the committee recommends that:
the approach to the cap on the refundable portion of the Research
and Development (R&D) tax incentive is refined, noting investment decisions
already taken; and
the formula for R&D intensity is refined, noting inherent
differences in R&D intensity across industries and impacts on businesses
with large operating costs.
Departmental officials advised the committee that the government is
considering the committee's recommendation. Officials highlighted that the Australian
Taxation Office (ATO) and AusIndustry, the co-administrators of the program,
have established a Research and Development Tax Incentive Roundtable.
Departmental officials noted that the roundtable had so far held one
meeting which took place on 7 March 2019. At this meeting, the roundtable had
considered a number of items and reported a number of actions for the next
We were asked to look at the type of information that we can
provide to the round table. We'll be providing some more numbers on various
aspects next time. We've sought feedback on the draft terms of reference, and we're
receiving some of that at the moment. We agreed to have a further discussion on
the software development. We agreed to have a discussion about the revised
registration form for the program. And there were also some administrative
matters around co-chair arrangements.
Women in STEM
The committee asked departmental officials about the 2019–20 budget
allocation for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)
initiatives. Departmental officials advised the committee of several new initiatives:
The 2019–20 budget has announced $3.4 million over four years
to increase girls' and women's participation in STEM study and careers. That's
made up of two specific measures. One is $1.8 million over three years to continue
support for the Science In Australia Gender Equity initiative, SAGE, to enable
the higher education and research sector to continue to improve gender equity
policies and practices. The second initiative is $1.5 million over three years
for a national digital awareness-raising campaign to increase the visibility of
girls and women in STEM.
The digital awareness-raising campaign will be led by the women in STEM
ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith.
Departmental officials noted that this funding builds on the $13 million
invested since 2016–17 through the National Innovation and Science Agenda.
Funding for the Australian Nuclear
Science and Technology Organisation
The committee discussed funding for the Australian Nuclear Science and
Technology Organisation (ANSTO). Departmental officials noted that the 2019–20 Budget
contained at a total of $112 million in funding for ANSTO and provided the
following breakdown of the funding:
$38.4 million is for high-priority activities focused on
short-term safety and operational requirements. It also includes $13.9 million
for proactive maintenance work for the nuclear medicine processing and
distribution facility. It includes $12.6 million to address recommendations
from the ARPANSA review, $5.9 million for managing radioactive waste,
$1.2 million for managing spent fuel and $4.9 million for decommissioning and
demolishing a contaminated building.
Departmental officials confirmed that a portion of the funding would go
towards addressing some of the safety issues identified in the Independent
Safety Review of the ANSTO Health Approach to Occupational Radiation Safety and
Operational Procedures, which was provided to the Australian Radiation
Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA report).
The ARPANSA report also noted that some of ANSTO's facilities would
require upgrading, in particular, that building '23' would need to be
replaced with some urgency.
Officials noted that the increased equity that ANSTO would receive was
also in recognition of the 'unforeseen expenses that ANSTO experienced last
year in responding to nuclear medicine supply disruptions'.
Australian Space Agency
The committee asked representatives from the Australian Space Agency
(ASA) for an update on the new agency's progress. Mr Murfett, Deputy Head of
the ASA commented that the 10 months since the establishment of the ASA had
been a 'pretty busy time'.
Mr Murfett noted that during this time, ASA had put in place governance
arrangements, established a charter, and formulated its strategy for the next
10 years. Mr Murfett explained:
It outlines a path to grow Australia's space industry to
become a greater part of the $350 billion global market. The way that that will
be achieved is by focusing on an international dimension. A premise of the
agency is to open doors internationally, and I can say that we've done that.
We've signed four MOUs with the likes of the Canadian Space Agency, the UK
space agency, the French space agency and, most recently, the UAE.
Mr Murfett also emphasised that the ASA's role is around growing and
transforming the industry:
We have a target of growing and creating up to another 20,000
jobs by 2030 and tripling the size of the space sector, which is currently
$3.9 billion. We have a goal by 2030 to get it to $12 billion. As part of that,
we've been working with industry and we've been signing statements of intent
which outline where industry and partners can see investments in Australia.
They are with companies such as Airbus, Lockheed and, interestingly, a
non-traditional space sector, Woodside Energy.
Mr Murfett noted the establishment of the ASA's headquarters in
Adelaide, at the old site of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, also called 'Lot 14'.
He advised the committee that construction had commenced and noted that despite
some delays the site was due to be ready in late October 2019.
The committee discussed the $19.5 million budget allocation made to the
Space Infrastructure Fund, noting that only two projects had so far been
Mr Murfett confirmed that of the $19.5 million total, two projects had
been announced: $6 million for a mission control facility; and $2 million to
support future space manufacturing capability.
Mr Murfett also advised the committee that the remaining $11.5 million had been
allocated to a further five projects which are still subject to negotiation.
Other topics raised
The committee discussed a range of topics during the hearing with the
Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio. The above reporting of discussions
is not complete. Other topics discussed by the committee included:
Business research and development initiatives
Cooperative research centres program
Expansion of Questacon activities
Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative
National Measurement Institute
Manufacturing Growth Fund
Radioactive Waste Management Facility
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