The Academy has highlighted Australia’s opportunity to build on its strong legacy of fostering a vibrant health and medical research environment, as part of our Pre-Budget submission for 2020-2021. Our response shows the important role that research and innovation can play in driving economic and societal recovery from COVID-19, and stresses the need to foster the next generation of research leaders who will steer us through future national and global challenges.
In its submission the Academy highlights the following priorities:
- Research and innovation should be positioned as a key pillar of economic and societal recovery from the pandemic. To achieve this, long-term, sustainable and predictable investment is needed. Gross expenditure on R&D should therefore be returned to a positive trajectory as a proportion of GDP, ideally with a longer term goal more consistent with the OECD average, to ensure we remain competitive in this sector and continue to reap the associated economic and societal benefits. This investment could be made through existing mechanisms, including the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council; and via appropriate levels of indirect cost recovery to all institutions recipient of federal research funding, including from the Medical Research Future Fund.
- The impacts on the sector will disproportionately affect some groups, especially early- and mid-career researchers, and urgent measures are needed to address these issues, as outlined in our joint submission through the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA). Some areas of research have seen significant disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic and action is needed from governments, funders and institutions to ensure this work can get back on track as soon as possible.
- Ongoing assessment and development of pandemic preparedness must be a long-term priority. There is an urgent need to strategically balance funding across the increasing number of national and global health challenges with which we are confronted.
- Additional funding to the learned Academies would assist in ensuring this kind of authoritative, expert advice, including rapid analysis, remains available to governments and policymakers as Australia tackles this pandemic, as well as future national and global challenges.
Further information on the 2020-21 Pre-Budget submission process is available from the Treasury website.