Government neglect of science fuelling brain drain

Labor has again called on the Abbott Government to start taking science and research seriously, following news a young Australian researcher has turned down a prestigious Australian Research Council early career fellowship because of concerns about funding cuts.

In turning down the award Dr Danielle Edwards told the ABC she sees a:

“… lack of government support that seems to be continuing and getting worse with the closure of CSIRO positions all over the place in general, I think, it's going to be really hard for Australian scientists to produce world-class research going into the future.

Dr Danielle Edwards, ABC News Online 4 Feb 2015   

Shadow Minister for Research, Senator Kim Carr said: “It is extremely concerning to see that – as a direct result of the Abbott Government’s backward approach to science and research – this talented scientist, who wants to move back to Australia and raise her family here, feels compelled to build a life in America instead.

“In the 2014 Budget, the Abbott Government recklessly slashed science and research spending by $878 million.

“This included cutting $115 million from CSIRO, leading to the largest job cuts in the organisation’s history.

“Dr Edwards’ experience shows these short-sighted cuts are already driving young scientist offshore.” 

But it hasn’t stopped there. Education Minister Christopher Pyne is proudly holding Future Fellowships and research infrastructure funding hostage to his ideological pursuit of university fee deregulation.

“Christopher Pyne is ransoming the future of Australia’s best scientists for an agenda of Americanisation and privatisation in higher education,” Senator Kim Carr said.

Labor introduced Future Fellowships because we understand that Australia’s best and brightest mid-career researchers need a career path and opportunities here in Australia 

The Future Fellowships was part Labor’s record investment in science and research, which boosted the sector by 30 per cent, helping to bring us into line with our global competitors.

Labor recognises that we live in a world where China is doubling its investment in research and development every seven years.

“Yet Tony Abbott’s Press Club address, supposedly about the future and boosting economic growth, failed to even mention of the drivers of new industries and new jobs – science, research and innovation,” Senator Kim Carr said.

“This is not just Tony Abbott’s blind spot – it is the Liberal Party’s blind spot.

“Australians have shown they understand that a vision for future jobs has to be about more than empty slogans – it must be about investing in smart people and new ideas. 

“That's what Labor does and that's what a Labor Government will always do.”


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