The ANAO’s report into the Turnbull Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) has confirmed what Labor has been saying all along: that NISA is innovation-lite.
NISA is nothing more than a collection of piecemeal initiatives that will not prepare Australians for the jobs of the future, and which reveal the government’s complete disregard for manufacturing jobs.
Despite the government’s high-flown rhetoric, NISA’s ad hoc programs do not even come close to restoring the $3 billion the Liberals have ripped out of the innovation system since 2014.
After Malcolm Turnbull’s $28 million taxpayer funded advertising campaign, Australian science remains starved of vital resources and entire fields of research risk being obliterated.
The auditor general’s report highlights a recurring problem with the Turnbull Government’s policymaking. It makes announcements that are strong on rhetoric, but short on detail.
That was the case with NISA and it is likely also to be the case with the Liberals’ space agency announcement, which contained no funding commitments, no details of operation and has yet to be endorsed by Cabinet.
ABS data released last week shows that business investment in research and development has fallen under this government.
That is hardly surprising, since many firms are still waiting for the government’s response to the review of the R&D tax incentive, which it received in April 2016.
Businesses investing in Australian R&D require policy stability and certainty, not mixed messages and constant change.
NISA was meant to be the policy that defined Malcolm Turnbull’s Prime Ministership, but it has been only a failed and glossy façade to the Abbott-Turnbull budget cuts to science, research and innovation programs.
NISA has not restored the 1600 jobs lost in science agencies since the Liberals took office in 2013 – almost 15 percent of the workforce.
Australia’s world-renowned public research agency, CSIRO, has been plunged into a state of crisis, with plummeting staff morale and continuing staff cuts.
The government is cutting funding from schools, TAFEs and universities, which are vital for the development of an innovative economy and a skilled workforce.
There is no plan to fund research infrastructure, merely a plan to abolish the $3.8 billion Education Investment Fund.
The ANAO report is proof that Malcolm Turnbull’s much hyped innovation agenda was never more than a shallow election ploy.