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Labor’s recommitment to lift spending on research and development to 3 per cent of the nation’s economy by the end of the next decade has been welcomed by Australia’s universities.

In a speech last night, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced if Labor won office they would:
  • establish a comprehensive expert review of the nation’s research system led by some of the nation’s great research leaders;
  • review and strengthen the National Science and Research Priorities;
  • affirm its fundamental respect for academic freedom; and
  • establish a Prime Minister’s Science and Innovation Council.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said policy guided by evidence and expertise is crucial to solve some of the greatest challenges facing Australia.

“Leading nations around the world are making major investments in research and Australia must keep pace to remain competitive,” Ms Jackson said.

“Research is at the heart of Australia’s future, and universities are the heart of our research effort,” she said.

“It’s very encouraging to see the commitment to work in partnership with universities and researchers to secure the nation’s prosperity."

“Lifting Australia’s spend on research and development from 1.88 per cent to 3 per cent of GDP would put Australia up where we belong: alongside other advanced economies.”

The research review will be led by former Chief Scientist and former Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Chubb and will include Professors Glyn Davis, Christobel Saunders, Emma Johnston, Andrew Holmes, Karen Hussey and Mr Phil Clark.

“An examination of Australia’s research capabilities, overseen by a panel of eminent researchers and experts, presents an opportunity for the nation to plan and build the knowledge base for the long-term,” Ms Jackson said.

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Bella Counihan
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