Despite prodding by Labor and a visit to Parliament two weeks ago to show off the work of the Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), the Minister for Industry and Science continues to sit on a decision about the future of its successor – the Innovative Manufacturing CRC.
The paperwork to approve the new CRC has been on Ian Macfarlane’s desk for more than ten months. The money is there – all he has to do is process the paperwork.
But with funding for the Advanced Manufacturing CRC set to expire at the end of June, Mr Macfarlane has left its employees and industry partners in limbo.
This is yet another example of the indecision and chaos that characterises the Abbott Government.
It is no wonder that industry groups are tearing their hair out and business confidence is non-existent.
If Mr Macfarlane cannot finalise the decision to fund a proven vehicle for industry-research collaboration at the cutting edge of manufacturing, what hope have we got for a comprehensive manufacturing or jobs plan from the Abbott Government?
Labor understands that Australia’s prosperity depends on building and sustaining a strong national innovation system.
The Abbott Government’s first budget trashed the former Labor Government’s cost-effective suite of measures aimed at boosting innovation and lifting industry-research collaboration.
Mr Macfarlane has been scrambling to recreate some semblance of an innovation policy ever since.
While it is too much to hope that he can convince Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey to reinvest in Australian ingenuity and ideas, the least he could do is to announce the Innovative Manufacturing CRC, as should have happened months ago.