The Chair of Innovation and Science Australia (ISA), Mr Bill Ferris AC, has today welcomed the Australian Government’s release of its response to ISA’s strategic report Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation (the 2030 Plan), which follows on from several related announcements in the 2018 Federal Budget.
Of the 30 recommendations made in the 2030 Plan 17 have been supported by government, another 10 supported in principle, and three noted. Several of the supported recommendations were reflected in announcements made in the 2018 Budget and the months preceding it:
- $500 million over ten years for a National Mission to provide a step-change in Australia’s genomics and precision medicine capabilities, catalyse the national innovation culture, and improve the health of all Australians.
- The government’s announcement in January of $6 million funding for a feasibility study into a Great Barrier Reef Restoration and Adaptation program, which is one of the three National Missions identified in the 2030 Plan. This was followed by a further announcement of $100 million for the follow-up phase of this program.
- Additional long-term funding of $1.9 billion over twelve years for national research facilities that will allow Australian researchers to access the tools necessary for the pursuit of world-leading research and provide the foundation for ongoing national prosperity.
- $29.9 million to enhance national capabilities in artificial intelligence and machine learning, including $25 million for a special stream of CRC-P’s and provision for the development of a longer-term AI roadmap to be led by Data61.
- The Prime Minister’s announcement on 4 May 2018 of an independent review of the Australian Public Service. This responds to ISA’s recommendation to “conduct a review of the Australian Government Public Service with the aim of enabling a greater role and capability for innovation in policy development, implementation and service delivery.”
- The government’s announcement in March of the Global Talent Scheme pilot, which aims to provide the Australian innovation system with access to the best and brightest from around the world to drive world-leading Australian innovations and commercial outcomes.
- The government’s announcement on 1 May 2018 that it would spend $65 million to establish a new agency to efficiently share government-held data while protecting individual privacy and ensuring ethical use. This is in line with calls from the Productivity Commission and ISA’s recommendation to “improve provision and use of open government data.”
“These are bold and significant measures by the government, and are important for acceleration of innovative activity nationally and for sustainable job creation out to 2030,” Mr Ferris said.
In commenting on the Government’s proposed reforms of the R&D Tax Incentive, Mr Ferris said “We view these changes to the R&D Tax Incentive as fundamental to improved integrity and efficacy of the incentive and therefore to its sustainability.
“ISA’s advice to government continues to be that these changes should be accompanied by expansion of non-tax-based incentives of the kind used by many of our competitor nations. This is necessary to ensure that the current negative trajectory in business expenditure on research and development (BERD) can be reversed.” Mr Ferris said.
“This reversal is core to our 2030 Plan and should remain a top priority for both business and government. Accordingly, the Board believes additional direct incentives to support BERD will be required to ensure that Australia becomes a top tier innovation nation by 2030.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the government as it moves to the implementation phase on the many recommendations it has supported outright or in principle.” Mr Ferris said.
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