Jobs, livelihoods and Australia’s innovation system are being placed at risk by Education Minister, Dan Tehan’s refusal to approve $300 million in grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC).
The Minister seems more than capable of holding a crisis meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the Liberals’ Victorian wipe out, but is incapable of following the advice of the ARC and approving these grants.
Either this is a Minister who does not know his job, or this is a Minister contemplating further political interference and rejecting a number of grants.
Despite widespread reports that the Minister may not announce the grants until early next year, there has been no clarity, with the uncertainty placing jobs in jeopardy.
The ARC’s Discovery and DECRA grants, normally announced in late October, are one of the major funding rounds announced each year.
Yet the announcement of successful recipients for this year is the latest on record.
Minister Tehan has been in a position to approve these grants for weeks now. Labor understands that the recommendations were sent to former Minister Birmingham in late August.
The jobs of many scientists and researchers in all disciplines are dependent on the announcement of these grant outcomes.
The failure to announce these grants means that younger researchers and support staff on contracts do not know if they will have a job after Christmas.
Peak bodies like Science and Technology Australia and the Australian Academy of Science have raised the alarm about the delays:
“This delay is having significant negative effects on people lives, and it’s grossly unfair to string them along without a clear reason for doing so”
Professor Emma Johnson, President, Science and Technology Australia - 22 November 2018
Labor has repeated called on Minister Tehan to announce these grants.
The response from the Education Minister has been complete and utter silence.
These petty culture war games must stop.
Only Labor will restore integrity to the Australian Research Council and Australia’s research system.