Tony Abbott has cut investment into science, research and innovation to the equal lowest level since records began in the 1970s, Greens Deputy Leader and Science & Research spokesperson, Adam Bandt MP, said today.
"Analysis of recently released Treasury ‘Science, Research & Innovation Budget Tables’ reveals for the first time just how low the country's investment into R&D is falling and it's a truly shocking picture," said Mr Bandt.
“Abbott government spending on science, research & innovation this year is now only 0.56% of GDP, an equal record low since Treasury started publishing data in the late 1970s.
“Over the last few decades science and research have become increasingly important to our society and economy, but we’re set to spend less this year than we did in 1979.
“The rot began under Labor in 2012, but Tony Abbott is taking spending on science and research to the equal lowest level since records began.
“Cuts to CSIRO, clean energy programs and tax concessions for R&D have contributed to this woeful result.
“We’ll never be able to compete with China or India on wages, but we can be stronger on research and innovation. That needs secure and significant public investment, something other countries have twigged to.
“We’re trailing behind countries like Germany, the UK and US and we’re outspent by key trading partners like Korea and Japan.
“If we keep cutting spending on science, research and innovation, the country’s ‘brain drain’ will continue and we’ll wake up when the mining boom is over to find we’re a hollowed-out uneducated quarry with nothing left to sell the rest of the world.
“Australia is on the verge of developing bionic eyes and printable solar cells, but the bodies that nurture these innovations are constantly under threat. We should be embracing these innovations and making sure they’ve got a secure future, but instead governments treat R&D spending like a honeypot to dip into every time the federal budget gets tight,” said Mr Bandt.
The Greens have a costed policy for Australia to match the United States by setting a goal of total public and private R&D spending of 3% of GDP. Countries like Japan, Korea & Sweden are already well above 3%. To lift the public component, this would involve spending an additional $2-3bn over the next four years, a fraction of the existing cost to the public purse of fossil fuel subsidies.