2016-17 Budget—the Australian Government’s commitment to Science and Research

The 2016-17 Budget will commit funding to support science in action which will in turn support Australia’s transitioning economy. The Australian Government will invest around $10 billion in science, research and innovation in 2016-17.

Science investment announced in the 2016-17 Budget on 3 May 2016 include:

  • $15 million for the National Carp Control Plan, which will help clean up Australia’s waterways. The Plan will use research from the CSIRO and the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre to cull up to 95 per cent of the carp in the Murray Darling.
  • Provide funding to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to ensure nuclear waste created during the production of vital medicines is disposed of more efficiently.
  • $83.1 million over four years to support Australia's presence in Antarctica. The funding will contribute to maintaining a sustainable level of operations to protect Australia's environmental, economic, scientific, security and strategic interests in Antarctica.
  • $12.6 million in 2019-20 to support the operation of the Australian Astronomical Observatory.
  • $14.9 million over four years from 2016-17 for the Cyber Security Small Business Grants Programme, an element of the Cyber Security Strategy.
  • $100.5 million provided to Geoscience Australia for the Exploring for the Future programme, which will provide better information on Australia’s resource endowments.     

The government is also continuing to implement the $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda, announced in December 2015.

The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, said “The NISA is helping Australia harness new sources of growth to deliver economic prosperity and the Turnbull Government is delivering on it.

“We have already introduced into Parliament legislation to provide tax incentives for early stage investors and new arrangements for venture capital investment, which will make it easier for startups to attract vital investment.

“Funding for additional science in action initiatives in the 2016-17 Budget will also support the NISA and deliver environmental and medical benefits to Australians living across our country” said Minister Pyne.

Clean up of Australia’s waterways

Minister Pyne, singled out the new National Carp Control Plan, announced on 1 May, as example of publicly-funded research with clear national benefits.

“The common carp is Australia’s worst freshwater aquatic pest, making up 95 per cent of fish biomass in the Murray Darling Basin” said Minister Pyne. The $15 million Plan will involve extensive community consultations before the release of a herpes virus that will eradicate up to 95% of the carp in the Murray-Darling Basin.

“Over the past eight years the CSIRO and the Invasive Animals CRC have been conducting research which has proven that this virus is safe for humans and Australia’s fish and wildlife. Now the Government is committing to follow through on this good work to ensure that a release of the virus can happen as soon as possible, and no later than the end of 2018”.

Re-profile funding to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)

ANSTO’s state-of-the-art Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) reactor produces a range of nuclear medicine products vital for treating cancer and other diseases. One in two Australians will depend on these medicines at some point in their lives. The OPAL reactor also produces nuclear material for industry and research use.

The 2016-17 Budget includes funding to update the OPAL spent fuel management plan so that the waste material generated by the reactor is disposed of more efficiently.

“The OPAL reactor produces 85 per cent of Australia’s potentially life-saving nuclear medicines as well as being the heart of ANSTO’s research capabilities, helping industries solve complex problems and enabling nationally important research” Mr Pyne said.

Boosting Australia’s Antarctic research

The 2016-17 Budget includes $83.1 million over the next four years to support Australia's presence in Antarctica. The Budget also provides long-term funding certainty for Australia's environmental, economic, scientific, security and strategic interests in Antarctica.

On 27 April 2016 the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced a new era of Antarctic engagement with the launch of the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan. This is the most significant package of measures ever developed to build Australia’s role as a leader in Antarctica.

Under the Antarctic Treaty system, Antarctica is designated as a natural reserve, free of mining and devoted to peace, environmental protection and cooperative international science.

By committing funding over the next 10 years and beyond, the government will enhance Australia’s Antarctic logistics and science capabilities. The funding will support operations as well as new infrastructure, including a world-class icebreaker for resupply and multi-disciplinary science, a mobile research station and the establishment of year-round aviation access between Hobart and Antarctica.

The Australian and Tasmanian governments will continue to work to enhance Tasmania’s status as a global Antarctic research hub and the premier Gateway to East Antarctica, including the expansion of infrastructure in Hobart to accommodate the new icebreaker.

Assistant Minister for Science Karen Andrews said the new icebreaker further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to Australian science and supports Australia’s position of science leadership in Antarctica.

“This icebreaker will enable Australia to conduct seafloor mapping and charting in the Southern Ocean” she said.

“The Australian Antarctic marine jurisdiction represents about 2.2 million square kilometres, roughly 15 per cent of Australia's marine estate, yet less than one per cent has been adequately mapped by modern seafloor mapping techniques.

“The technology on the new icebreaker will greatly enhance our seafloor mapping capability, enabling Geoscience Australia and its partners to develop a greater understanding of marine ecosystem habitats and biodiversity.”

Support the operation of the Australian Astronomical Observatory

The Australian Astronomic Observatory operates the Anglo-Australian Telescope and UK Schmidt Telescope on behalf of the astronomical community in Australia. These world-class facilities are among the most scientifically productive telescopes worldwide for their size.

The Cyber Security Strategy

A Cyber Security Growth Centre has been established under the National Innovation and Science Agenda, and is the first initiative to be delivered under the Government's Cyber Security Strategy. Released on 21 April 2016, the strategy sets out the Government’s philosophy and program for advancing and protecting our interests online.

The Exploring for the Future programme

The Exploring for the Future programme will produce the next generation of pre competitive geoscience data, with a focus on targeted areas of northern Australia and parts of South Australia. It will improve Australia’s long term exploration prospects and address declining onshore greenfield exploration activities.

“The resources sector continues to play an important role in our economy, representing around 10 per cent of Australia’s GDP and more than 50 per cent of our exports” said Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP.

“The 2016-17 Budget delivers a strong boost to the productivity and competitiveness of this sector by providing Geoscience Australia with greater capacity to undertake for mapping mineral, energy and groundwater potential in northern Australia and South Australia.”

The $100 million Exploring for the Future programme will produce pre-competitive geoscience data, to be released on an annual basis over the next four years.

Geoscience Australia estimates that around 80 per cent of Australia remains under-explored, in particular, areas in the Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia, which will be the focus of this initiative. This will improve Australia’s long term exploration prospects and help address declining new onshore exploration.

“At a challenging time for the resources sector, this important initiative will help ensure that Australia’s strength in innovation is furthered, and that we maintain our competitive edge in this world-leading sector” said Mr Frydenberg.

For more information on announcements and Budget information relating to the Industry, Innovation and Science Portfolio, visit www.industry.gov.au.

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