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What does the government re-election mean for research funding?

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With the Coalition government back in power what can researchers expect as far as new funding commitments go? While the newly formed government is still finding its feet, it is fair to say that with a mix of newly elected politicians in Canberra, different agendas may start to emerge.

However the one thing no-one can argue with is the fact that science contributes about $330 billion to Australia’s economy annually, according to the Australian Academy of Science.

Not a lot was mentioned about science research funding during the election campaign. The exception was the announcement by the Prime Minister that a re-elected Coalition government would fund a $20 million program to identify the genes that cause childhood cancers. The Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative aims to get childhood cancer survival rates up towards 100% through individually tailored treatment.

Less is known about other areas of research that have emerged as hot funding topics recently – including research to protect corals on the Great Barrier Reef, research and development funding into renewable energy and environmental impacts, funding into genomic medicine and a strategic plan for Antarctic science research.

Members of the Australian scientific community might have different political leanings, but they seem to agree that all areas of research would benefit from stable funding that is not dependent on which party or government is in power. With research projects inevitably requiring long-term lead times and often not seeing tangible outcomes for many years, bipartisan support of the sector is the priority.



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