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AAS on AG science budget 2023

How did science and research feature in the Federal Budget?, Australian Academy of Science, 9 May 2023

The Australian Academy of Science welcomes the Albanese Government’s ongoing support for science and research in the 2023–24 Federal Budget.

This is a ‘business as usual’ budget for science, continuing to invest in Australian universities, science agencies, national research infrastructure, training scientists, supporting business research and development (R&D) and the broader science system.

Australian Academy of Science President Professor Chennupati Jagadish said despite this spending, Australia’s overall investment in science remains lamentable.

“Figures released in late April show that the Australian Government’s investment in science, research and innovation is the lowest on record at 0.49% of GDP,” Professor Jagadish said.

“Reversing the downward trend of government investment in R&D is not the work of any single budget.

“It will take a decade or more of commitment and effort from government, industry and the higher education sector to boost total investment in R&D. Work must start today.”

Professor Jagadish said the Academy was disappointed to see that the Australian Government’s flagship initiative to invest in international collaboration, the Global Science and Technology Diplomacy Fund, has been earmarked for reductions over the forward estimates.

Acknowledging that there is ongoing work within the government to modernise policy settings for the science system, Australia still lacks a whole of government and society plan to improve Australia’s dwindling level of research and development investment.

It will take a decade or more of commitment and effort from government, industry and the higher education sector to boost total investment in R&D. Work must start today.

The Academy has recommended two key actions with which we can get started—formalising policy to get a national target to lift R&D from 1.79% to 3% and an independent review of the entire science and research system.

The budget makes worthwhile investments in recognition of the value that science brings to the nation—economically, socially, and culturally—including:

  • $4.5 billion in science and research through universities in 2023–24 and $3.3 billion to support research and development in industry
  • more than $3.5 billion in the science agencies like CSIRO, including welcome ongoing funding for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Questacon: Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre
  • funding to establish Environment Protection Australia, Environment Information Australia, review the Murray Darling Basin Plan and reform our failing environmental laws
  • other necessary investments in science advice through the National Science and Technology Council, supporting the National Reconstruction Fund, Quantum science and responsible artificial intelligence.

The Academy looks forward to working with government to create a modern research enterprise able to support and advance science in Australia and to support our economy.

Federal Budget 2023-24 science and research snapshot

The Academy has developed an interactive data report that provides a snapshot of the Australian Government’s science and research expenditure estimated in the Federal Budget.

Explore the data

See also: Federal budget delivers big for AUKUS, small for science research and funding

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