The Academy has produced an analysis of the Federal Budget handed down on 25 October 2022.
As expected, much of the budget focuses on finding efficiencies around some of the programs introduced by the previous government. Consequently, there is limited news for research and innovation.
For health, the overarching narrative from the Department of Health and Aged Care emphasises: strengthening Medicare and cutting the cost of medicines, boosting regional and rural health, strengthening First Nations health, fixing the aged care crisis and implementing aged care reform, and extending COVID-19 support. The Budget papers also state that “a strong science system, with clear priorities, is critical to maintaining high levels of sustainable economic and social prosperity”.
In a welcome announcement, there is $3.4 million over four years to develop a National Health and Climate Strategy and establish a National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit. This unit will address emerging health risks resulting from climate change and coordinate climate change responses across the health system. The Academy called for a focus on environmental sustainability to be embedded within health system leadership in our statement on the health impacts of climate change in April 2022. This is a valuable step towards achieving a well-defined, quick, and staged path to a net-zero world, which is critical to ensuring the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
Annual funding for research through NHMRC has increased compared to previous estimates, which is at least partially due to indexation, while ARC drops slightly in 2022-23 but then increases beyond previous estimates annually from 2023-24. The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) capital balance is expected to drop below previous estimates, although annual spend on initiatives remains the same at $650 million per year.
Also of note, the Budget includes:
- $314.8 million over five years to support work to close the gap for First Nations peoples’ health and wellbeing outcomes.
- $3.2 million in 2022–23 to undertake the initial design for the establishment of an Australian Centre for Disease Control.
- $15.4 million in a Startup Year program to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in university students and help turn their ideas into reality.
- $47.2 million over 6 years from 2022–23 to support the development of talent and leadership in Australian science and technology.
- Policy priority areas for the Academy
- Health and medical research funding
- Research and innovation infrastructure and programs
- Health system support – other measures
- Investing in science and technology – other measures