[ASA] Fwd: STA media release - Independence of research funding critical

Andrew Hopkins andrew.hopkins at aao.gov.au
Thu Sep 5 16:36:30 AEST 2013

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	STA media release - Independence of research funding critical
Date: 	Thu, 5 Sep 2013 16:29:21 +1000
From: 	Catriona Jackson <catriona.jackson at sta.org.au>
To: 	STA <catriona.jackson at sta.org.au>

Independence of research funding critical

Scientists around the nation are profoundly concerned by news today that a 
Coalition Government would interfere in Australia?s independent system of 
research-grant funding.

STA CEO Catriona Jackson said:

?The Coalition Government has this afternoon confirmed it would, if elected, 
re-prioritise funding through the nation?s key independent granting body 
Australian Research Council (ARC).

?Specific research projects - all in the arts and social sciences - have been 
labeled ?increasingly ridiculous?. But scientists know that the flow of new 
knowledge is critical to the kinds of ?real word? results that all Australians 
are proud of, and that the Coalition is calling for.

?It was CSIRO scientist John O?Sullivan?s search for exploding black holes 
that led to his discovery of wireless technology that has swept the world, and 
earned Australia $500 million in royalties with probably as much again to come.

?Australians should ask: Do we want politicians picking and choosing which 
grant proposals deserve funding?

?The Coalition statement raises a number of critical questions:

  * How would the new grants process work?
  * Who would make the final funding call?
  * How much would this new process cost, and would it simply add another
    political or bureaucratic layer?

?Scientists and research funding agencies understand that Governments set 
priorities for research and that this is entirely valid given we do not have 
the resources to fund everything.

?Priority setting is very different from political picking and choosing.

?Only a quarter of research grant bids that go to the ARC each year are 
successful. Only the best of the very best get through the very careful peer 
review, expert-driven process.?

STA is the peak group for the nation?s 68,000 scientists and those working in 
technology. STA?s mission is to bring together scientists, governments, 
industry and the broader community to advance the role, reputation and impact 
of science and technology in Australia.



*Media comment: STA CEO Catriona Jackson ? 0417 142 238, and STA President 
Professor Michael Holland 0407 960 782*


A.Prof. Andrew Hopkins, Head of AAT Science
Australian Astronomical Observatory
P.O. Box 915, North Ryde, NSW 1670, Australia
ph: +61 2 9372 4849  fax: +61 2 9372 4880

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