In January 2024, the Learned Academies provided a submission to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee inquiry into provisions of the Australian Research Council Amendment (Review Response) Bill 2023.
The Academies (the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering) endorse the proposed amendments in the bill.
We specifically welcome provisions that will:
- Provide for an ARC Board and establish the role of the Board in appointing the Chief Executive Officer and the College of Experts, and for approvals of grants under the National Competitive Grant Program (NCGP).
- Remove the capacity of the Minister to intervene in grants recommended for funding, except on national security grounds, including a requirement not to give the Board direction about particular funding approvals.
- Require transparency around Ministerial intervention by providing a written statement to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security and tabling a statement in Parliament.
- Establish revised Objects to the Act that will provide greater clarity as to the purpose of ARC, including its key role in supporting fundamental research.
- Provide for the ARC to evaluate the excellence, quality and impact of research in Australian universities.
These changes are consistent with our submissions to the Review consultation and will set a strong foundation for the ARC to better support Australia’s world-class research effort.
This submission makes four recommendations to further strengthen the Bill. Read them in the full submission below.