Research Australia has responded to the National Tax Review Discussion Paper. Research Australia’s members are drawn from across the not for profit, government and corporate sectors. As a consequence Research Australia’s submission necessarily addresses a number of different aspects of the tax system but a common theme is the role that the tax system can play in promoting Australian health and medical research and improving the health and wellbeing of Australians. Research Australia recommends incentives to support investment in small, innovative research intensive companies, the continuation of the tax deduction for self education expenses, continuing concessions for not for profit organisations and charities, and reform of alcohol taxes to improve their effectiveness in reducing alcohol related harm.
The Australian Government has consulted on changes to the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system, including moving to an opt out system, which creates the prospect of a much higher take up of the system and much greater utility to researchers in the future. While there is no proposed change to current arrangements in relation to research, the review offers the opportunity to influence how the system can be used for research purposes. Research Australia has supported the move to an opt out system, and has made a number of recommendations, including amending the legislation to allow identified data to be provided for data linking with other data sources for research purposes, and the indefinite retention of health records as a important resource for longitudinal research.
Research Australia’s submission to the National Diabetes Strategy Consultation paper has welcomed the inclusion of research as one of the five goals of the Strategy and makes a number of recommendations for how health and medical research can both support and improve the delivery of the National Diabetes Strategy.
In April 2015 the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP issued the Draft National Strategy for International Education for consultation.
The Discussion Paper makes specific reference to Australian universities’ reputation for research excellence as a key factor in making Australia an attractive destination for overseas students. Research Australia’s response specifically addresses this aspect of the Discussion paper and the strategy.
Austrade has undertaken a two stage consultation on the eligible complying investments for individuals seeking a visa under the Investor Visa Programme. In the first round in late 2014, Research Australia advocated for donations to health and medical research to be included in the definition of complying investments. Austrade has included this proposal in the second round consultation for the new Premium Investment Visa, which requires a total investment of $15 million. Disappointingly, it has not supported the same inclusion for the existing Significant Investor Visa. In the two year period from the introduction of the Investor Visa Program to December 2014, nearly $3 billion in investments was made under the program and a further $3 billion was pending. Securing even a small proportion of this as donations to health and medical research could be a significant benefit to the heath and medical research sector.
Research Australia has argued in our second round submission for some refinements to the proposal and for its extension to Significant Investor Visas as well as Premium Investor visas.
In 2014, the Government appointed an expert panel to consider ways to strengthen independent medical research institutes (iMRIs). Following an initial round of consultation, a discussion paper was issued, outlining the Review’s initial findings that iMRI’s could be more efficient, collaborative, diversify their revenue sources and more effectively translate their research. Research Australia has made a submission in response to the discussion paper, proposing specific measures that could be taken to achieve these outcomes and highlighting some barriers and constraints to achieving these objectives. Research Australia emphasised the need to take a ‘whole of sector approach to some of these measures, in particular improving translation.
In December 2014 the National Health and Medical Research Council undertook a targeted consultation on a draft of the ‘Principles for Publicly-Funded Data for Health Research’ (the Principles).
Research Australia is of the view that the Principles could do more to support the linking of data from different datasets and the submission addressed this matter. It also provided some comments on the specific wording of the Principles and proposes an addition to the Glossary.
The ACNC issued a draft of a document providing information about the category of charity known as a ‘Health Promotion Charity’ and how the ACNC interprets the law in relation to this category. Research Australia made a submission in relation to a number of aspects of the draft Interpretation Statement, focussing in particular on the ACNC’s interpretation of the word ‘disease’.
Research Australia has made a submission to the Treasurer in relation to the 2015-16 Budget. Research Australia’s submission urges the Government to implement the MRFF and to invest in health and medical research as a means of improving the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of Australia’s health system.
Crowdfunding has been one of the most innovative developments of the last decade, and has allowed a range of projects to attract the financing they needed to succeed. Starting in the creative arts, the range of projects supported by crowdfunding has broadened in recent years. Perhaps one of the best examples of the potential of crowdfunding has been its use as a platform for the funding of university research projects, pioneered by Deakin University and Pozible in 2013.
With crowd funding in Australia currently restricted to providing non financial benefits, the Government has undertaken a consultation on the model of regulation required to allow crowdsourcing to be used by firms to raise equity. The consultation draws on a model developed by the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (CAMAC).
Research Australia is broadly supportive of the model proposed by the Corporation and Markets Advisor Committee (CAMAC). The responses to the questions raised in the Discussion Paper outline some proposed refinements to that model and identify some key questions that should be addressed.