Improving the ARC Act

On 30 August 2022, the Minister for Education, announced an independent review of the ARC Act to consider the role and purpose of the ARC within the Australian research system so it can meet current and future needs and maintain the trust of the research sector.

The Expert Panel appointed to undertake the Review issued a consultation paper which included specific questions respondents were asked to address.

Research funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) is relevant to Research Australia’s membership because, while the ARC does not fund ‘medical research’, the ARC funds much of the basic research that underpins health and medical research, as well as supporting the broader research ecosystem.

Research Australia’s responses were directed to specific questions relevant to our membership.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Enabling the ARC Industry Fellowships Scheme to work for HMR

Announced in February this year, the ARC Industry Fellowships Scheme is intended to support all of the Government’s strategic target industries, including medical products.

Research Australia believes that the Scheme is at risk of failing to meet its objective of supporting the strategic area of Medical Products unless some form of exemption from, or relaxation of, the ARC’s Medical Research Policy is applied to the Industry Fellowships.

This issue has been raised by Research Australia in ARC consultations on the guidelines for the new Scheme and in a formal submission to the ARC. The submission is available here

Research Australia supports ARC’s independence

The Senate Employment and Education Legislation Committee is undertaking an Inquiry into the Australian Research Council Amendment (Ensuring Research Independence) Bill 2018, which lapsed when the 2019 election was called and has recently been revived. The renewed interest has been prompted by the decision of the acting Minister for Education to reject some proposed ARC grants in December 2021.

As stated in the Bill’s explanatory memorandum, ‘The intent of the Bill is to remove Ministerial discretion from research grants administered by the Australian Research Council (ARC).’   While Research Australia accepts the right of the Government to set the criteria for research funding programs, including the eligible applicants and research areas, and the amounts of funding available, Research Australia does not believe the Minister should have the power to refuse to fund individual research proposals that are recommended by the CEO of the ARC under an approved funding program.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

The Senate Committee’s report was released on 21 March. The majority report, by ALP and Coalition Committee members recommended against passage of the Bill. The report is available here. A dissenting report from the Australian Greens senators is available here.