Labor welcomes the reports this morning that National ICT Australia (now renamed Data61) is set to have some level of funding returned after Malcolm Turnbull slashed its funding by $47 million a year.    

Labor has repeatedly called on the Liberals to restore funding to NICTA in full, after Labor last year exposed Malcolm Turnbull’s hypocrisy when he was happy to pose for the cameras with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the NICTA facility which Malcolm Turnbull had cut to the bone.

NICTA is one of the most successful government-industry research partnerships in Australia’s history.

Reports in the Australian Financial Review this morning speculate that the Liberals are only planning to return less than half of the $42 million a year that the Abbott-Turnbull Government slashed from ICT research.

All of Australia’s science and research agencies need to be funded, in full.

If the Liberals have seen fit to review their position on cuts to NICTA then they need to review all of their cuts to science, research and innovation, including:

  • $107 million from the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program

  • $115 million from CSIRO

  • $75 million from the ARC

  • $27.5 million from ANSTO

  • $7.8 million from AIMS

  • $16.1 million from Geoscience Australia

  • $120 million from DSTO

  • $174 million from the Research Training Scheme (10 per cent cut).

The suggestion that NICTA does not need to be fully funded because its administrative costs will now be borne by the CSIRO is fanciful when the CSIRO itself has been cut by $115 million and suffered the largest job losses in its history.    

The Liberals now need to explain what is going to happen to the up to 200 NICTA employees whose jobs are set for the chop as a result of these cuts.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government needs to understand that people’s livelihoods are on the line and the researchers and employees at NICTA need certainty that they will have a job. The best way to do this is to fund NICTA in full.

Malcolm Turnbull talks a big game about science, research and innovation but he was one of the Ministers directly responsible for these cuts at NICTA which has led to its downsizing and merger with the CSIRO.

Only Labor is committed to investing in science, technology, engineering and maths to build the jobs of the future. 

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