Data released this week showed that Government investment in R&D has dropped to 2.2 per cent of total budget expenditure, the lowest in 30 years, while demand for innovation continues to grow.
Sunday, 28 September 2014
Professionals Australia CEO Chris Walton said that it was clear that we need to do more to convince the Government of the importance of “long-term, strategic investment” in R&D and scientific endeavour.
“Our Still the Clever Country? campaign calls for investment in research, development and science, to build a strong and productive economy,” said Mr Walton.
“If Australia is to remain a clever country and build a knowledge-based economy, we need more not less, investment in R&D and science.
“On a daily basis we hear calls for more innovation and improvement to our living standards, the way we understand and treat disease, how can produce more sustainable foodsources and smarter products that we all rely on – all this comes from science.
“Ultimately, we have to shift prevailing thinking that science is a cost, when actually it is an economic enabler.
The data revealed that R&D investment had grown at less than half the rate of total budget expenditure over the past two decades. At an average annual rate of 2 per cent, real growth in science spending fell well behind transport (23.5 per cent), public safety (8.8 per cent) housing (6.6 per cent) and health (5.5 per cent).
“The imperative here is our nation’s need for a strong and diverse research and innovation sector. If we want to improve our living standards and see Australia prosper, we can’t stand by and do nothing.
“The numbers are clear. Studies have shown that investment in research led to 30 times more economic growth than investment in infrastructure, while investment in applied research led to 10 times more growth.
“Australia has been lucky so far, but with the mining boom easing and our economy in transition, we need build capacity in the innovation industries.
“Without strategic investment in science and research – and the development of our highly skilled and talented science workforce – we face the prospect of other nations powering ahead of us and reaping the rewards that could be ours for the taking.
“Science is a global endeavour, so it is critical that Australia’s science and research capability keeps pace with other innovative countries, otherwise we could see ourselves shut out of a vital exchange.
OECD data in 2013, ranked Australia 18th out of 20 advanced economies – ahead of only Greece and the Slovak Republic – for government R&D spending as a share of GDP.
Professionals Australia has been calling for the Government to lift investment in science and R&D from 2.2 per cent of GDP to 2.4 per cent – in an effort that would see us move to the top half of the OECD table.
Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb recently released his national science strategy to highlight the need for sustained, long-term investment in the sector.
Professor Chubb said that without government investment in research, business would not “take risks” that would eventually generate jobs and economic growth.
The Government is due to release its new “Competitiveness Agenda” shortly, which Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane has said will “draw science further into industry policy and create stronger links between business, research and science”.
Chris Walton said that Professionals Australia would welcome “any initiative that increased investment in science and R&D”.
Find out more – visit our Still the Clever Country? campaign page