According to reports today, Tony Abbott’s Cabinet is united in holding the jobs of 1700 of Australia’s world class researchers hostage to get their plans for $100,000 degrees through the Senate.
But it seems that senior Coalition figures have belatedly realised that the threat to destroy the future of research in Australia is demolishing what little is left of the Government’s credibility.
The last week has seen a growing chorus of calls from the science and business community for the Abbott Government to see sense and commit to the $150 million of research infrastructure funding that is already in its forward estimates.
Yesterday, Business Council of Australia President, Catherine Livingstone, gave voice to the sector's frustration and disbelief, asking:
“How have we come to the point where a government feels it can use assets, publicly funded to the tune of over $2 billion, as a hostage in a political process?”
BCA President, Catherine Livingstone, 12 March 2015
Shadow Minister for Higher Education and Research, Senator Kim Carr, said: "It is well past time for Christopher Pyne and Joe Hockey to quit bullying the research sector and the Senate crossbench, and listen to reason.
"The science community and the business community are telling the Government loud and clear that their reckless blackmail is putting at risk the very basis of Australia's future as an innovation economy."
Last week, three National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) facilities confirmed that they have already been forced to make plans to close their multi-million dollar facilities, and that the Government’s callous actions are leading to a brain drain from Australian science.
As Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt, has said:
“This is not the way a grown-up country behaves. It’s very childish and it’s having profound impact to something that is going to increase the productivity of the nation … In the next couple of weeks, we’re looking at dropping our productivity of the future, not raising it.”
Professor Brian Schmidt, RN Breakfast, 5 March 2015
"The Abbott Government's approach to science and research is a travesty," said Senator Carr.
"After ripping almost $900 million from Australia's research agencies in its 2014 Budget, it is now threatening the very backbone of the system.
"The Government has been able to find billions of dollars for other priorities since the Budget, but can’t commit to the funding it promised last May to secure 1700 highly skilled jobs and 35,000 research projects.
"It is clear the Liberals have no plan to address the productivity challenges identified in their own politicised Inter-Generational Report. They have no plan to create the jobs of the future - and no compunction in sending today's jobs offshore."