Last updated May 9, 2018 at 10:14 am
Science doesn’t face major cuts in the 2017-18 Federal Budget. So what is in store for science?
The Budget is the government’s annual financial report, which details how it plans to collect and spend money over the upcoming financial year, as well as 3 financial years after.
The Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison delivered the 2017 Federal Budget, announcing that there will be a surplus GDP by 2020-21. As usual, the Federal Budget reflects what the current government believe are core priorities. Each year, those involved in science hold their breath for significant changes to improve research and more.
Don’t forget that the government released a National Science Statement earlier this year (read our breakdown of it here). The $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda will continue to be delivered after it was announced in late 2015.
We’re interested in how science fared in this year’s budget announcement.
It was also summed up nicely by Science and Technology Australia.
Science and technology Budget wins:
- $100m to establish the Advanced Manufacturing Fund to boost innovation, skills and employment through a growth fund and centre, a Cooperative Research Centre, innovation labs.
- $26.1m for astronomy through a strategic partnership with the European Southern Observatory (astronomical research and instrumentation) – ongoing annual indexed commitment of $12m to 2027-28 (total of $120m over 11 years)
- $7m increase in Business Research and Innovation Initiative
- AMSI internships program supported as promised in MYEFO (Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook)
- MRFF starting disbursements as expected with $65.9 million in year one for preventative health, advanced health translation, clinical trials and breakthrough research investments
- SA Proton beam facility as announced yesterday $68m
- $115 million for mental health research and services
- $49.8 million to operate and enable access to the Macquarie Island Antarctic research facility
Science and technology Budget losses:
- CSIRO – small reduction of $13.6m over four years
- Higher education cuts – 2.5% efficiency dividend to universities (as foreshadowed)
- ARC – will fall behind inflation in forward years so its funding will go backwards in real terms
- NHMRC – will fall behind slightly in forward years
As always it’s a projection, not a promise. Only time will tell whether or not the budget will prevail.
There was a mixed reaction based on Twitter on Budget night.
— Carly Rosewarne (@MicrobialMe) May 9, 2017
— Science&TechnologyAU (@ScienceAU) May 9, 2017
— Science&TechnologyAU (@ScienceAU) May 9, 2017
— Aust Academy Science (@Science_Academy) May 9, 2017
Check out the expert reactions from our nation’s top science organisations here.
Wanting slightly more details? Keep reading below.
NEW MONEY! Pass ‘Go’ and collect some bonus funds on top of already promised initiatives. The Australian Government will invest $65.9 million in first disbursements from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), which was established in the 2014–15 Budget.
The first investments for the $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund to support the commercialisation of bio-medical research in Australia will be announced soon as well.
In addition, $5.8 million will be provided for research into childhood cancer.
And, of course, Australian space geeks are delighted over the initial $26.1 million into maintaining Australia’s world-renowned optical astronomical research and instrumentation capabilities in a partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
— Alan Duffy (@astroduff) May 9, 2017
Some great success for Australian astronomy and space – Australia to join @ESO, however nothing on a space agency 🙁
— Brad Tucker (@btucker22) May 9, 2017
The government will continue to send a strong message to anti-vaxxers, particularly those who choose to not vaccinate their children through the No Jab No Pay policy. $5.5 million for awareness campaigns and $14.1 million for the program expansion, including free catch-up childhood vaccinations for children and young adults aged between 10 and 19 years who missed scheduled vaccinations. $15 million will also be set aside to encourage compliance. From July 2018, Family Tax Benefit A payments will be reduced by $28/fortnight ($726/year) for each child who hasn’t been immunised.
$68-million investment into a proton beam therapy facility to be operational by 2020 – useful for inoperable cancers. It is an Adelaide and Australian first facility of its kind. The Proton Beam Therapy Facility will be used as an alternative to conventional radiotherapy to treat people with certain types of cancer. It even opens up options for medical tourism. Read more about what is Proton Beam Therapy.
Some other initiatives hidden away in the budget papers:
- Healthy heart initiative coupled with the Heart Foundation to a total of $15 million.
- $54.0 million over five years from 2016-17 to provide free access to continuous glucose monitoring devices for children and young adults under 21 years of age who face extra challenges managing their type 1 diabetes.
- $4.1 million to continue a pre-existing program to support living organ donors.
Worth mentioning, and one of the biggest announcements out of the budget, is full funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme will be met by increasing the Medicare levy from 2% to 2.5%.
— Dr Krystal Evans (@dr_krystal) May 9, 2017
The Government will provide $86.3 million over four years from 2017-18 to increase gas production and support affordable electricity prices for households and industry. This will include:
- Investing in new generation, transmission and storage capacity, and
- Investing in new low emissions technology
The second half of the Government’s long-term energy security plan will be informed by independent, expert advice, with a review being conducted by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO.
— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) May 9, 2017
Fast, affordable broadband and increased mobile coverage is promised with the continued roll out of the National Broadband Network and the continuation of the Mobile Black Spot Program in rural locations.
The Federal Government is also recognising digital currency, such as bitcoin, as real money. Digital currency will no longer be subject to additional GST! Previously purchases with digital currency were taxed 10% GST twice – once for using digital currency itself, and once for purchasing the goods.
— Aust Science Channel (@RiAus) May 9, 2017
In case you were considering tertiary education in STEM, early announcements regarding the Budget saw the Federal Government heavily criticised for their changes around tertiary education. Not only will students face an increase in university fees (7.5%) but they will have to start paying back their loans from a lower threshold ($42,000 instead of $51,957). Note that HELP loans will still be accessible so that students won’t face upfront costs.
- Real (aka money) efforts to fight climate change
- Didn’t address recommendations in R&D tax incentive review
- $13 million over five years to encourage more women to choose and stay in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research, related careers, start-ups and entrepreneurial firms.
- $22.7 million in 2017-18 to complete the next stage of development for GovPass. GovPass will provide a trusted digital identity framework for use by people needing to provide secure proof of identity to use Government services online. GovPass will link to existing document and facial verification services to establish identity.
- $85.4 million over three years from 2017-18 to replenish the National Medical Stockpile’s holdings of medicines, vaccines and antidotes. The National Medical Stockpile is a strategic reserve for use in response to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear event.
- Ban on cosmetic testing on animals from the end of next year, while the government will ban the use of new data obtained from animal testing from July 1, 2018, at a cost of $2.1 million.
Want to see more?
Check out all things Budget:
— Australian Treasury (@Treasury_AU) May 9, 2017
- Get a refresher to compare to last year’s budget.