Photo op but no funding for NICTA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to use her very limited time in Australia to visit National ICT Australia (NICTA) shines a welcome spotlight on the Abbott Government’s appalling decision to abolish all government support for this outstanding research organisation.

Ministers Turnbull and Macfarlane were happy to pose for photos with Chancellor Merkel when she toured NICTA’s Future Logistics Living Lab this morning but haven’t been as forthcoming when it comes to funding its future.

The Abbott Government has ruthlessly cut off all funding for NICTA from mid-2016.

Shadow Research Minister, Senator Kim Carr, said the Abbott Government’s suggestion that NICTA should be self-funded was reckless and unrealistic.

“NICTA plays an absolutely vital role in developing Australia’s digital economy and the innovations that will underpin our future industries,” Senator Carr said.

“NICTA has graduated 400 PhD students in Computer Science and related fields with its 22 university partners and has 300 PhD students currently on its books.

“By cutting off all funding to this premier ICT organisation, the Abbott Government is effectively punishing NICTA for its own success and threatening its continued existence.

“The bipartisan support that has sustained NICTA for over a decade is gone.

“It is a disgrace that Tony Abbott has turned his back on NICTA - Australia's most important research link to the growth of the knowledge economy - when global leaders are going out of their way to single it out as a leader in its field.

“NICTA's achievements are formidable, from technology that is part of more than 1.5 billion of the world's mobile phones to related research that has been classed by MIT as one of the top ten technologies that will change the world.

“Its prestige and world standing are reflected in the partners it has attracted, including Germany’s Fraunhofer and Max Planck institutes.

“But, while NICTA is very successful, it cannot fully fund itself and continue the ground-breaking record of research it has achieved to date.

“No research institution in the world has successfully transitioned to fully private funding while continuing to provide the public good of strategic research.

“It is extremely short-sighted and destructive of the Abbott Government to jeopardise NICTA’s future.

“But, of course, this is yet another example of the Abbott Government’s hostility to applied research and development, after having already slashed $620 million for the R&D Tax Incentive, cut $80 million from the Cooperative Research Centre program and abolished Commercialisation Australia and Enterprise Connect.”


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