The Budget outlines the plan to repurpose the Education Investment Fund (EIF) to create a new fund to top up funding for natural disaster recovery.
This follows the failed attempt to repurpose the EIF to partially fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) — a measure that never gained the approval of Parliament.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said: “There is no need to raid Australia’s last remaining fund for building education and research infrastructure.”
“As an advanced nation we should be able to invest in both research infrastructure that helps us understand and address emergencies, as well as an emergency response fund.”
“Surely with a $7.1 billion surplus this is not an either/or proposition.”
“The EIF has been gathering dust since the Government froze payments, with the last payout in 2013.”
“It is now valued at $3.9 billion — meaning six years of lost investment opportunities.”
Ms Jackson said: “The world-leading research supported by EIF infrastructure includes work on climate change, natural disasters and human behaviour — all vital to successful emergency responses.”
“Tragically, more Australians than ever are being affected by natural disasters. University research —supported by long-term infrastructure investment — can help us tackle the cause, not just deal with the aftermath.”
“Cutting edge research — the kind that changes the lives of everyday Australians through medical and social breakthroughs — needs cutting edge infrastructure to make it happen.”
“Without modern labs and equipment we cannot take part in modern research — they are the baseline tools our students and researchers need to fuel our economy and improve society.”
“The Budget clearly shows that the Government has the funds to both support Australians affected by natural disasters and to back essential research capability.”
“There is no reason to make Australians choose between these two important priorities.”