Evidence at today’s Senate Estimates revealed that Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne’s determination to put their own jobs ahead of those of ordinary Australians has pulled the rug out from under Australia’s best and brightest mid-career researchers.


At today’s Education Committee hearing, the Australian Research Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Professor Aidan Byrne, confirmed that there will be no Future Fellowships round in the financial year 2014‑15, because the scheme has been tied into the unfair and unnecessary legislation to implement $100,000 degrees.

“It is too late to run a scheme this financial year.”


            Professor Aidan Byrne, Senate Estimates, 25/2/15


This means researchers who are just getting established in their careers will miss out on the opportunity to compete for 100 prestigious fellowships in 2014‑15.


Shadow Minister for Research, Senator Kim Carr, said: “This situation is a direct result of the Liberal Government’s decision to hold the careers of our most promising researchers to ransom in a desperate attempt to get its unfair university deregulation agenda through the Senate.


“Labor established the Future Fellowships program because we recognised that even the brightest researchers were facing challenges establishing their careers in Australia.


“The program has been a great success, addressing a brain drain of Australia’s best young thinkers, who were increasingly finding more secure career opportunities overseas.


“Unfortunately, because Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne only care about their own career prospects, they’ve sold these young Australian researchers down the river.


“This isn’t just a tragedy for the smart young people who desperately want to establish research careers in Australia – it is feeding a brain drain to our global competitors, who continue to lift their investment in science, research and innovation.


“And all this pain is for nothing, because the Senate has made clear it will not be blackmailed into passing the Liberal Government’s unfair and unnecessary plan for $100,000 degrees.


“Once again, I call on Mr Pyne to get serious about the importance of his portfolio and go back to the drawing board on his proposal to Americanise Australian higher education.”


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