The Senate Economics Legislation Committee has launched an Inquiry into the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No.5) Bill. Schedule 3 of the Bill proposes reducing the rate of the R&D Tax Incentive by 1.5%. While ostensibly this is to align the rates with the proposed change in the Company Tax rate, in fact this measure will disadvantage innovative research intensive companies, and particularly those that are still in early stage development of their products. In fact the saving to the Budget over four years is expected to be around $600 million. Research Australia has made a submission to the Committee opposing the reduction in the rate of the R&D Tax Incentive on a number of grounds.
The NHMRC issued a revised Statement on Consumer and Community Involvement in Health and Medical Research in August 2014 and sought feedback in response to five specific questions. Research Australia’s submission proposes that the intended audience and purpose of the Statement be clarified. It also provides specific comments on the text of the Statement.
The NHMRC has consulted on a Good Practice Process for Clinical Trials with the aim of improving clinical trials governance. Research Australia has made a submission welcoming the initiative and acknowledging that it is one of a number of actions being undertaken to improve, standardise and streamline clinical trial processes, including by COAG’s Standing Committee on Health. Research Australia’s submission highlights the benefits of moving to a national, standardised approach to clinical trials, points to some possible improvements to the process and identifies some state- specific regulatory barriers.
The Financial System Inquiry is examining the role and function of Australia’s Financial System. Research Australia’s submission emphasises the critical role the financial system plays in supporting innovation and proposes that this should be a key aim of any government intervention in, and regulation of, the financial system. It makes the case for governments to work with private sector capital to invest in innovative companies, and provides examples of how social impact bonds can be utilised to translate research into practice in the healthcare system.
Research Australia has made a submission to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare in response to its discussion paper on variation in healthcare across Australia. Research Australia’s submission proposes that while variation in health care is an indication of room for improvement it does not indicate what this improvement should be or how it should be implemented. Research Australia’s submission highlights the need to improve our data collection and expand our capacity for analysis and the identification of best practice. We also need to improve the mechanisms for communicating best practice and undertake research into how evidence of variation in healthcare can be used to motivate the adoption of best practice.
Research Australia has made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Innovation System. Innovation is crucial to making the most of Australia’s discoveries in health and medical research, developing new products, and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Australia’s healthcare system. Research Australia has called for a national ‘whole of governments’ innovation strategy and the inclusion of innovation on the COAG agenda, as well as some specific measures to drive innovation in health.
In the May Budget the Federal Government announced that it was replacing a range of existing industry support programmes, including Commercialisation Australia, with the Entrepreneur’s Infrastructure Investment Programme. In June 2014 the Department of Industry launched a discussion paper on the Programme, and Research Australia made a submission. Research Australia’s submission emphasised the importance of building collaboration between publicly funded research organisations and private sector entrepreneurs, the importance of viewing researchers both as a resource to entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs in their own right, and suggested a number of measures which would support the successful commercialisation of Australian public research.
Research Australia today lodged its submission in response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes. The focus of the review is on measures to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the sector, and the terms of reference specifically include mental health research.
Research Australia’s submission has focused on the better integration of research into the design, delivery and evaluation of mental health programmes and services, and the benefits this can bring through improved effectiveness and efficiency. Specific measures include the more effective collection and use of data across mental health services and an investment in infrastructure to facilitate clinical trials and comparative effectiveness research.
The submission was developed with the assistance of an expert working group drawn from Research Australia’s membership, and their contribution is gratefully acknowledged.
The Australian Treasury released an exposure draft of changes to be made to the tax legislation to implement the Government’s policy to ensure that tax deductible donations are spent in Australia. Research Australia has previously raised concerns with Treasury about the impact this could have on health and medical research organisations. Special provision has been made in the exposure draft of the Bill to facilitate international collaboration in health and medical research, and while this is a welcome development there are further changes and improvements that are required if the provision is to work as intended. There are also some significant implications for Australian groups that are raising funds to support overseas research into rare diseases.
The South Australian Government issued a discussion paper seeking on the suitability of Social Impact Bonds to fund innovative new programs. Research Australia’s submission proposes the use of Social Impact Bonds to address the well recognised problem of translating research outcomes and discoveries into practice in the health system. Specifically, Research Australia believes that Social Impact Bonds could be an effective mechanism for funding and evaluating pilot projects and clinical trials designed to implement and evaluate new evidence based practices and interventions. The benefits of implementing successful new interventions are improved patient care and efficiency gains in the South Australian health care system.