Govt threatens scientific research funding if Senate doesn’t pass uni reforms

Posted on 6 Mar 2015 by Aiden Burgess

Australia's scientific research sector is under threat after the Coalition refused to guarantee funding for the sector.

Funding for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) was set to come from the Government’s higher education reforms.

With the reforms having been rejected by the Senate in December, as well as a subsequent amended bill, the Government has stated it is unable to guarantee scientific research funding for the NCRIS past June 30 this year.

The 27 NCRIS  facilities are set to be the big losers in the stalling of the proposed $150m in funding, which impacts the 35,000 Australian and international researches who use the facilities.

The 1,700 scientific research jobs the facilities provide are also under threat.

The scientific research funding remains in limbo, with the Government refusing to guarantee funding to the NCRIS unless the Senate passes Minister for Education and Training, Christopher Pyne’s, higher education reforms, which would result in the deregulation of university fees and the privatisation of HECS tertiary education loans.

Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt described the refusal for funding as “blackmail”.

“Education Minster Christopher Pyne is blackmailing the Parliament, saying that unless the Parliament passes his plan to increase university fees, he’ll take the axe to science and research facilities in this country,” Mr Bandt said.

For now, Australia’s science and research community can only wait and see if the Government will honour the proposed funding or if it will follow through on its threat.