Major party’s science and research policies: Update

Two weeks ago I presented a summary of policy positions for the major parties this Australian Federal Election. Since that time we have seen the release of Science and Technology Australia’s science policy questionnaire, the release of the Coalition’s costings and an official release from the ALP outlining their position on science and research policy.

Of note is Tony Abbott’s promise to redirect $104 million of Australian Research Council funds away from projects deemed wasteful and into medical and health research. This should not be a surprise if you have been reading between the lines in the Coalition’s promise to maintain health funding and nothing more. The ARC’s competitive research budget for next year is $884 million and these cuts would “reprioritise” $16 million in the first year of a Coalition Government. While this is not a great proportion of the ARC pie, the move is more worrying for the precedent it sets in letting politicians decide the national research agenda.

Science and Technology’s response to the Coalition’s policy is here.

Updated table below:


Grading the major party’s science and research policies this election

For supporters of science and research wanting to know what the major parties have on offer in this year’s election campaign, you need go no further than here.


Slim pickings indeed, aside from The Greens recent science package proposal. The Greens policies are thoughtful and align well with the Australian Academy of Science’s election policy recommendations. Liberal and Labor’s policies are limited token reactions to the recent McKeon NHMRC review.

I hope I will get to update the table if/when the major contenders can come up with some sensible policy for the research sector.

In the mean time, please feel free to copy and distribute the table.


The Greens: Solid

Labor: Chiffon

Liberal: Gossamer

For more information:

Australian Academy of Sciences election policy recommendations

Greens Science Policy

Liberal Party health and medical research funding

Labor’s McKeon Research Package

Sydney Morning Herald coverage of Green’s science policy package