Pre Budget submission calls for strategic investment

Research Australia’s Pre-Budget submission to the Treasurer acknowledges the progress made since the election. This includes putting Australian innovation and industry on a stronger footing by introducing the legislation to create the National Reconstruction Fund and Australia’s Economic Accelerator (first proposed by the previous Government). These measures are recognition the Government shares Research Australia’s view that it is no longer good enough to just sell off our best ideas to the rest of the world.

Australia has world leading health and medical research but current investment is inadequate, poorly aligned and failing to deliver on the potential health and economic benefits. In summary, Research Australia has recommended:

    • A National Medical Products Industry Plan with the aim of Australia becoming a net exporter. This can capitalise on the Government’s commitment to the National Reconstruction Fund, and help secure Australia’s national security, by manufacturing more of the products we rely on here in Australia.
    •  A National Health and Medical Research and Innovation Workforce Plan to ensure we have the workforce we need for the future.
    • A national stocktake of health and medical research and development activity across Australia
    • A new Clinician Researcher Fellowship Scheme to help drive innovation efficiency and improved equity in our health system
    • Increased investment in research and development, especially through the funding programs of The National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council.

Read Research Australia’s submission.

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.

The role for research in a new Centre for Disease Control

In November 2022, The Commonwealth Department of Health commenced a targeted consultation on the proposal to develop an Australian Centre for Disease Control (CDC). Research Australia participated in a consultation workshop on 24 November  and was invited to make a submission in response to a consultation paper.

Most of the CDC’s functions will relate to provision of healthcare and prevention measures. Research Australia’s responses were directed towards areas where health and medical research and innovation is most relevant to the CDC and can provide the most support for its proposed functions. Key points include the:

    • CDC’s role in data collection and analysis and the value of providing access to these datasets to researchers;
    • need to include reagents in the National Medicines Stockpile;
    • scope for the CDC to identify essential medical items which should be manufactured domestically; and
    • publication of all CDC recommendations and reports as a measure to enhance transparency and public confidence.

2022/23 BUDGET UPDATE- 25 October 2022

Summary

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has used his first Budget to implement some of the new Government’s election promises and make cuts to the former Government’s programs. This is a ‘mini budget’, which sets the scene for Labor’s first full Budget in April or May next year.

As such, there were no significant changes to funding for the ARC or the NHMRC research funding programs in the next two years, with modest increases across a range of funding programs in the following two years . It seems that any major increases in funding health and medical research will have to wait until the Budget situation improves.

The rising cost of living has continued to be a key political issue. In the March Budget, the CPI was forecast to be 3.0% for 2022-23 and 2.75% in 2023-24. In tonight’s Budget inflation for this year is expected to be 7.75% for 2022-323 and 3.5% in the next financial year. Rising inflation also affects health and medical research, making the cost of undertaking research higher. As noted above, the Government has once again failed to address this issue, with increases in funding for the NHMRC and ARC announced in the March Budget and maintained tonight failing to even keep pace with inflation.

Revamping Primary Care

The Treasurer has announced a $2.9 billion package to drive an innovative revamp of Australia’s primary health care system including $100 million to co-develop and pilot innovative models with states and territories to improve care pathways and inform program roll out. The new models of care will make it easier for Australians to see a healthcare professional when they have an urgent, but not life- threatening, need for care.

Comprehensive Cancer Centres

In a win for research-active healthcare, the Government has announced tonight $375.0 million over 6 years from 2022–23 to contribute to the establishment of the Queensland Cancer Centre in Brisbane. The centre will be owned and operated by the Queensland Government and will be located within the Herston Health Precinct at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

There is also $77.0 million over 5 years from 2022–23 to contribute to the establishment of the Bragg Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Adelaide. The centre is an extension of the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute. 

National Centre for Disease Control
The Government is fulfilling its election promise to create a National Centre for Disease Control, with $3.2 million allocated over the forward estimates in preparatory work.

National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit
In a sign of changing health priorities, a $3.4 million investment in the Budget will establish a National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit and develop Australia’s first National Health and Climate Strategy.

 

National Reconstruction Fund
The National Reconstruction Fund is a $15 billion election promise which includes $1.5 billion for medical products over seven years. In tonight’s budget the Government has confirmed this Fund is central to its plan to invest in a stronger economy, delivering better jobs

Other announcements that affect health and medical research and innovation include:

    • $39.0 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to increase the number and consistency of conditions screened through the newborn bloodspot screening
    • The new investment of $3 billion to deliver better aged care includes $23.1m for research and consultation for reforms to in-home aged care.

There are big spending announcements in areas as diverse as Defence and infrastructure. While not on the same scale, there is some good news for STEM, including:

    • $13.5 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to strengthen coordinated policy capability
      to identify, assess and support Australian development of critical and emerging
      technologies, an issue Research Australia has been tracking for some years now.
    • $10.3 million over 6 years from 2022–23 for Australia to host the International Science
      Council’s Regional Presence for Asia and the Pacific and to deepen Australia’s science
      engagement in the region.
    • $5.8 million over 5 years from 2022–23 to support women in science, technology,
      engineering and maths (STEM) through the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship
      program and to undertake an independent review of existing STEM programs.
    • $4.8 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to develop Australian quantum technology
      through sponsoring up to 20 PhD research scholarships and encouraging collaboration
      on quantum research across Australian universities. This cost will be partially met from
      within the existing funding for the Department of Defence’s Next Generation
      Technologies Fund.

Please read on for our summary of what this Budget means for health and medical research and innovation.

Health Portfolio

In Research Australia’s Pre- Budget Submission and our Pre-Election Statement we continued to call for increases in funding for the NHMRC’s Medical Research Endowment Account. This Budget sees the Government’s funding to the MREA continue to decline in real terms. This is of genuine concern to the health and medical research community; it jeopardises our long term research capability and increases the precariousness of research careers, especially for early and mid career researchers.

Addressing these and other issues are at the centre of Research Australia’s advocacy for a truly national health and medical research and innovation strategy, We are working with Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to make this vision a reality.

Medical Research Future Fund

The amount of funding available from the MRFF is predicted by the Budget to be $650 million per annum over the next four years. This is unchanged from the March Budget

The funding available from the MRFF each year is dependent on the investment return on its capital. Investment returns for the MRFF were adversely affected by the COVID driven economic downturn. The previous Government has committed the MRFF to providing funding of $650 million of the next few years, regardless of the actual investment returns on the MRFF’s capital. The Albanese Government has honoured this commitment for 2022/23, requiring it to provide an additional $62 million from consolidated revenue to meet this target. (Only $598 million has been released by the Future Fund Guardians to fund MRFF commitments this year.)

NHMRC 

Funding for the NHMRC’s MREA remains unchanged from the March Budget for 2022-23 and 2023-24, but is higher in the last two years of the forward estimates. Funding for the NHMRC’s programs is continuing to grow very slightly. The increase in this financial year is 1.7%, and around 1.5% in the following year before over the forward estimates. This is lower than the forecast CPI of 7.75% for 2022-23 and CPI of 3.5% in 2023-24. It also comes on top of CPI of 4.25% in 2021-22. In effect, NHMRC funding continues to decline in real terms in the next couple of years, as it has done for many years now.

$m. 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
Funding to MREA

2022 Budget (OCT)

875.751 877.952 905.160 922.365 938.095
Funding to MREA

2022 Budget (MAR)

863.266 877.952 891.094 905.355 918.985
Funding to MREA

2021 Budget

863.266 875.362 887.588 899.124 N/A

Australian Centre for Disease Control

Fulfilling an election promise, the Government will provide $3.2 million in 2022–23 to undertake the initial design for the establishment of an Australian Centre for Disease Control. The design work will incorporate stakeholder consultations to ensure the new Centre will support improved pandemic preparedness and response, as well as the prevention of chronic disease. There is no detail about where the Centre will be located or potential partners.

Comprehensive Cancer Centres

The Government will provide $452.0 million over 6 years from 2022–23 to support the establishment of world class cancer centres in Brisbane and Adelaide. The centres will provide multi-disciplinary cancer care, research and clinical trials for all types of cancers.

Centre of Excellence in Disability Health

The Government will provide $15.9 million over 4 years from 2022–23 (and $6.6 million per year ongoing) to establish and support a National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health (the National Centre of Excellence). Partial funding has already been provided for, with only some of this funding a new commitment.

The National Centre of Excellence will deliver a central hub of expertise, resources and research on the health care of people with intellectual disability and provide leadership in meeting the needs of people with intellectual disability.

 

Education Portfolio

Nearly half of all Australian health and medical research is undertaken in the higher education sector, and the Department of Education makes a significant contribution to the funding of this research through several programs, as outlined below.

ARC Programs

The Australian Research Council’s Funding Programs are critical to Australian publicly funded research, including to the life sciences and medical technologies.

Discovery Program

Over the forward estimates in this Budget, funding is slightly higher than the March Budget from 2023-24. The funding to the ARC for the Discovery Program increases by 0.8% compared to 2021/22, and by an average of 8% per annum over the next two years and 4% in 2025-26. This means that for the first time in many years the Discovery Program is forecast to increase slightly in real terms (i.e. at a rate higher than inflation).

$m. 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget (OCT) 506.735 511.074 551.867 596.388 622.986
2022 Budget (MAR) 489.188 511.074 535.915 562.406 585.206
2021 Budget 489.188 494.922 501.162 509.432
2020 Budget 487.016 487.860 490.610
2019 Budget 525.537 538.350 N/A

Linkage

The ARC Linkage Program had been singled out by the previous Government as an important component of Australia’s innovation system and delivering the Industry Fellows component of the University Research Commercialisation Scheme. Accordingly there is a boost to the Linkage Program’s funding in this Budget of around $11 million per annum compared to what was allocated last year. This is not enough to enable the Linkage program to fund 800 new Industry Fellowships over 10 years announced in February and keep up with inflation.

Linkage Program

$m.  21-22  22-23  23-24  24-25  25-26 
2022 Budget (OCT)  292.543  319.503  345.731  374.289  400.792 
2022 Budget (MAR)  325.454  340.820  357.704  375.595  390.950 
2021 Budget  325.454  329.948  334.109  339.622   
2020 Budget  323.871  325.240  327.074  N/A   
2019 Budget  295.246  301.741  N/A  N/A   

 

Research Support

In addition to providing funding for the ARC research programs, the Department of Education provides funding to universities to help cover the indirect costs of research.

In the 2020 Budget, the Government used the Research Support Program to provide a vital injection of $1 billion into higher education research in the current financial year.  No further injection was provided in last year’s Budget and funding in the March Budget for 2022-23 was actually lower than was forecast in the 2019 Budget. The October Budget provides increases of around 5% per annum in the Research Support Program from 2023-24.

 

$m.  20-21  21-22  22-23  23-24  24-25  25-26 
2022 Budget (OCT)    930.659  951.188  1004.314  1058.779  1089.934 
2022 Budget (MAR)    930.659  951.188  978.674  1,002.668  1,028.230 
2021 Budget  1918.298  930.659  942.775  958.326  974.143   
2020 Budget  1918.298  926.490  929.270  938.107  N/A   
2019 Budget  920.573  941.748  962.455  N/A  N/A   
2018 Budget  1018.879  1042.302  N/A  N/A  N/A   

Funding for the indirect costs of research funded by the MRFF is provided from the Research Support Program. With the MRFF providing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to universities, a substantial increase in the Research Support Program is needed just to maintain the levels of research support funding for research projects at their current already inadequate level. The issue of indirect research costs remains unresolved for the whole health and medical research sector and indeed publicly funded research more broadly. Research Australia continues to call for a whole of government approach to the issue of funding indirect research costs.

 Research Training

The Research Training Program (RTP) provides funding to universities to support higher degree by research students (mostly PhDs). Funding for the RTP also declined in absolute terms between the 2019 and 2020 Budgets, and has only partly recovered in the 2022 Budget. The October Budget provides increases of around $50 million per year from 2023-24.

 

$m. 20-21 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget (OCT) 1069.181 1092.766 1153.800 1216.372 1251.497
2022 Budget

(MAR)

1069.182 1092.766 1124.344 1151.909 1181.153
2021 Budget 1054.981 1069.182 1083.160 1100.967 1119.137
2020 Budget 1054.981 1064.392 1067.585 1077.738 N/A
2019 Budget 1057.595 1081.921 1105.710 N/A N/A

Australia’s Economic Accelerator

The Australia’s Economic Accelerator was a new program announced in the March Budget which was not implemented before the election. The Albanese Government has given a commitment to fund it. This is a $1.6 billion program over 10 years, administered by the Department of Education to overcome the valley of death that currently exists between the point at which public research funding ceases (typically publication) and the point at which commercial investors are prepared to get involved. The funding in the October Budget indicates less finding this year, accounting for delays in starting the program, with slightly higher funding over the forward estimates in subsequent years.

$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget (OCT) 10.172 99.444 162.395 159.95
2022 Budget (MAR) 49.160 99.444 149.498 154.601

National Collaborative Research Infrastructure (NCRIS) Program

The NCRIS Program funds vital national research infrastructure needed to support Australian research. The 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap informs the 2022 Research Infrastructure Investment Plan. Areas of interest to HMR that have been nominated for the New NCRIS roadmap include synthetic biology, digital research infrastructure, collections (biobanks) and facilities to scale up materials for clinical trials.

This Budget maintains the forecast $100 million boost to NCRIS from 2023-24 and slightly more funding each following year than was forecast in March. The 2022 Research Infrastructure Investment Plan should provide more detail about how this funding will be allocated once it is completed, hopefully later this year.

$m. 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget (OCT) 273.567 286.043 400.028 499.848 458.338
2022 Budget (MAR) 273.567 286.043 396.826 496.739 454.441
2021 Budget 273.565 283.922 391.092 491.265

Start Up Year

Fulfilling an election promise, the Government will provide $15.4 million over 4 years from 2022–23 (and $2.8 million per year ongoing) to establish the Startup Year program to deliver income contingent Higher Education Loan Program loans to up to 2,000 recent graduates, postgraduate and final year undergraduate students per year. The Startup Year will support students’ participation in a one-year, business-focused accelerator program at an Australian higher education provider, which will encourage innovation and support Australia’s startup community.

Industry, Innovation and Science Portfolio

National Reconstruction Fund

Fulfilling another election promise, the Government will invest $15.0 billion over 7 years from 2023–24 to establish the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) to provide targeted co-investments in 7 priority areas: resources; agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors; transport; medical science; renewables and low emission technologies; defence capability; and enabling capabilities.

The NRF is expected to generate revenue from investments, with policy and legislation design to follow public consultation.

$50 million over two years from 2022–23 has been allocated to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, and the Department of Finance to establish the NRF.

Supporting Australian Science

The Government will provide $47.2 million over 6 years from 2022–23 to support the development of talent and leadership in Australian science and technology. Funding includes:

    • $13.5 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to strengthen coordinated policy capability to identify, assess and support Australian development of critical and emerging technologies
    • $10.3 million over 6 years from 2022–23 for Australia to host the International Science Council’s Regional Presence for Asia and the Pacific and to deepen Australia’s science engagement in the region
    • $10.0 million over 3 years from 2022–23 to continue delivery of Questacon outreach programs to engage young Australians and science teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, including through touring exhibitions for regional, rural and remote communities
    • $5.8 million over 5 years from 2022–23 to support women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship program and to undertake an independent review of existing STEM programs
    • $4.8 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to develop Australian quantum technology through sponsoring up to 20 PhD research scholarships and encouraging collaboration on quantum research across Australian universities. This cost will be partially met from within the existing funding for the Department of Defence’s Next Generation Technologies Fund
    • $2.9 million in 2022–23 to improve the Prime Minister’s National Science and Technology Council’s provision of science and technology advice and continue support of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science event.

 CRC Program

The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Program is important to health and medical research and innovation, with many of the CRCs funded over the 30 year life of the program being health related. Current CRCs include the Digital Health CRC and the Autism CRC.

The smaller CRC projects program is also relevant, with recently funded projects including the creation of better brain electrodes and development of a bionic medical device that delivers high-fidelity visual-spatial perception for blind people. Funding for the CRC Program is scheduled to increase slightly faster than forecast in the 2021 and March 2022 Budget papers.

$m. 20-21 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget (OCT) 187.343

 

199.374

 

199.962

 

205.054

 

201.579
2022 Budget (MAR) 189.395 199.374 193.117 197.070 193.540
2021 Budget 222.777 189.980 197.815 191.042 193.807 N/A

Modern Manufacturing Initiative

The Modern Manufacturing Initiative was a major announcement in the 2020 Budget and part of the previous Government’s response to COVID-19. The program is being curtailed, with the Government reversing uncommitted funding in the Modern Manufacturing Initiative and not proceeding with a third round of the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund. The saving is $303.7 million over three years.

CSIRO

The CSIRO has Flagship Programs relevant to heath and medical research and is a key collaborator and partner in research. While it generates much of its own revenue it is also funded by the Government. The Government contribution to the CSIRO outlined in the Budget rises in the next two financial years before dropping back again.

 

$m. 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget (OCT) 949.037 991.134 1.005.563 919.405 931.573
2022 Budget (MAR) 949.037 991.289 985.625 899.352 904.477

Conclusion

Research Australia will continue to provide analysis and commentary in the coming days and weeks. We invite your responses and reactions to how the second 2022 Budget affects you and your work.

For further information or questions, please contact Greg Mullins, Head of Policy, greg.mullins@researchaustralia.org

 

Ends …..

2022-23 Pre Budget Submission- a way forward

Research Australia’s 2022-23 Pre Budget Submission acknowledges the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous toll on the Australian community and globally, but also recognises that as a consequence of the way Australian governments and the community have responded, the impact in Australia has been comparatively mild.

Australia’s response to COVID-19 has been so broad and deep because of previous investments in the nation’s research and innovation capacity. This capacity, and the funding that underpins it, cannot be taken for granted. There is no guarantee that Australia’s health and medical research and innovation community will be equally well placed to respond to a future pandemic.

Research Australia’s submission makes the case for why maintaining and expanding this existing capacity for health and medical research and innovation is in the national interest.

In addition to raising national prosperity and diversifying our economy, smarter investment in health and medical research and innovation can improve the effectiveness of our health system; constraining the rise in health costs that accompany an ageing population. It can also provide a sustainable pathway to addressing modern lifestyle factors such as obesity. Smarter investment also drives skilled employment in vibrant new pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology industries.

Research Australia is advocating for an overarching national health and medical research strategy which ensures smarter, coordinated, strategic public investment in all stages of research; maximises impact on national priorities such as burden of disease, and the stronger translation of evidence-based research into healthcare delivery; and exploits areas of international competitive advantage. Imagining and preparing for the Australia we want in 50 years’ time has to start today.

Research Australia’ s submission is available here.

University Research Commercialisation

The Australian Government is undertaking a scoping study to understand how to best implement a University Research Commercialisation Scheme to better translate and commercialise university research outputs. It has appointed an Expert Panel and issued a Discussion Paper.

Research Australia’s response to the Discussion Paper addresses the role of ‘Missions’, the use of stage-gating and the role of co-funding by Governments, universities and industry. It highlights the critical need to better align existing funding programs and fill the gaps to provide a more seamless approach to research funding from basic research through to commercialisation.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

2021 Pre Budget submission calls for renewed investment in R&D

Research Australia’s Pre Budget submission to the Treasurer ahead of the 2021 Budget  focuses on the vital role of health and medical research and innovation in Australia’s  response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the manufacturing and innovation opportunities that health and medical research presents for Australia’s economic recovery.

It calls for renewed investment in R&D by the Australian Government, continued support for universities and medical research institutes with meeting indirect research costs, and measures to support medical products R&D and manufacture. The case for increasing NHMRC and ARC funding is also made. Funding for Government initiatives in data sharing and preventive health are among other measures sought.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Medical Products Roadmap Consultation

Research Australia has responded to the consultation being undertaken by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources to support the development of a Medical Products Manufacturing Roadmap under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative announced in the October 2020 Budget. Medical products is one of six strategic areas being targeted under the MMI for Government spending of $1.3 billion over five years.

The Consultation was undertaken using an electronic survey restricted the length of the response to each question. Research Australia’s response emphasises:

    • the opportunity to support the manufacture of products and materials for clinical trials;
    • the opportunity this provides to scale to full scale manufacturing, keeping the full scale manufacturing of medical products developed in Australia on shore; and
    • the opportunity to support manufacturing in high value medical products.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.  These proposals were further developed in Research Australia’s January 2021 Pre Budget submission, available here.

The Government subsequently released the Medical Products National Manufacturing Priority Roadmap in February 2021. Research Australia’s proposal to support manufacturing for clinical trials as part of the Roadmap was adopted, and identified as a pathway to scaling up of manufacturing capability. The Roadmap is available here.

COVID-19 Impact on Health and Medical Research and Innovation

Research Australia’s submission to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 has sought to highlight the significant and lasting impact the pandemic will have on Australian health and medical research and innovation.

Research Australia’s recommendations to the Inquiry are:

    • The establishment of a national whole of governments review of Australian research and innovation to properly quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.
    • Commitment to a comprehensive, fully funded strategy for how and where research and innovation will contribute to Australia’s future prosperity and wellbeing.
    • A short-term injection of additional Government funding into research in Australia’s universities and MRIs to preserve existing research capacity while the economy recovers.
    • Extending the JobKeeper scheme to universities would be a good place to start, as would redressing some of the rules that have prevented some MRIs from accessing JobKeeper because of their governance arrangements.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

The Committee published three interim reports before publishing its final report in April 2022. The Committee’s reports are available here.

Changes to R&D Tax Incentive opposed

Research Australia has used its submission to a Senate Inquiry to argue against the latest round of changes to the R&D Tax Incentive that have been proposed by the Government.

The changes contained in the Treasury Laws Amendment (Research and Development Tax Incentive) Bill 2019 are largely the same as the changes the Senate rejected early last year. Research Australia believes the changes are poorly designed and will significantly reduce R&D in the health sector. With expenditure on the R&D Tax Incentive Scheme having fallen dramatically in the last couple of years and with Government support for R&D at an historic low, Research Australia has urged the Senate Committee to reject the changes again.

Research Austrlaia’s submission is available here.

The submission of an alliance of seven groups from across the health and medical research and innovation sector, including Research Austrlaia, is available here.

The Committee’s final report has been delayed and is now to be tabled in the Senate on 24 August.