Research Australia has made a submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the MRFF Bill in its own name and as a principal member of the MRFF Action Group. While largely supportive of the MRFF Bill, Research Australia and the other members of the MRFF Action Group have proposed some amendments to the Bill to:
- improve the definition of ‘medical innovation’
- enhance the transparency and independence of decision making
- ensure the MRFF’s capital maintains its real value over time
- enable a portion of the MRFF’s capital to be invested in innovative medical start up companies.
MRFFAG Submission to Medical Research Future Fund Bill
Research Australia Submission Medical Research Future Fund Bill
Research Australia has responded to the Queensland Competition Authority’s Draft Report of Queensland Government Industry Assistance. Research Australia supports the need for a clear rationale and strict criteria for Industry Assistance Programs but suggests that the proposed criteria need to be developed and applied more appropriately. In the case of health and medical research, the opportunity to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the health care sector (with a saving to the Queensland Government) and to improve health and wellbeing need to be recognised as legitimate objectives of Government assistance. The submission highlights the complex interaction between public research funding and private sector involvement in the commercialisation of health and medical research, and points to some successful Queensland models that are worth supporting.
Industry Assistance in Queensland
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.
National Tax Review 2015
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.
Electronic Health Records
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.
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.
International Education 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.
Donations to H&MR for business 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.
Review to Strengthen Independent Medical Research Institutes
iMRI Review 2015 Attachment HRAF
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.
Principles for Publicly-Funded Data for Health Research
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’.
Health Promotion Charities