Labor's Plan For A National Inquiry Into Research


Labor's Plan For A National Inquiry Into Research

Labor will institute a once in a generation inquiry into the Commonwealth Government’s research system, to be led by Professor Ian Chubb, former Chief Scientist of Australia and former Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University.

Australia’s overall research framework and its coherence have not had serious review for years. In the meantime, marginal changes have been made to policy, funding cuts have been imposed and political interference has left behind a system that could benefit from a root-and-branch examination.

This is not novel or unique to Australia. Most notably both the United Kingdom and Canada have recently undertaken and implemented reviews to ensure that maximum value is obtained from the public investment in research.

In 2015 Sir Paul Nurse conducted a review of research funding – Ensuring a successful UK research endeavour. The review recommended the establishment of a new body, UK Research and Innovation, to provide better co-ordination and coherence to the UK’s various funding councils and research funders.

In Canada the Fundamental Science Review, colloquially known as the Naylor Review, inquired into federally funded research. Its final report, Investing in Canada’s future: Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research, led to the creation of the Canadian Research Coordinating Committee, the establishment of a Tri-Agency Fund to streamline research funding and the Innovation Superclusters Initiative on key areas of dense government and business activity.

We must ensure that Australia maintains its international competitive advantage, and that we do not lose our capacity to attract and retain the world’s best researchers.

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has broken the relationship between the Commonwealth and the Australian research community. They have constantly interfered and manipulated on political and ideological grounds.

Time and time again they have demonstrated their contempt for Australia’s research enterprise. Under Labor this will change.


Labor will establish a review into Research in Australia.

The review will focus on international best practice in organising our research system and the need to maintain our capacity for basic and translational research. The review will be expected to provide the government with a comprehensive explanation of Australia’s research effort – its coherence and its quality, its gaps and its needs.

The assessment of the overall research framework will be conducted by Professor Ian Chubb AC FAA FTSE FACE FRSN. He will be supported by an Advisory Group that will include members whose background gives them a broad perspective on the research sector.

The Group will include:

• Professor Christobel Saunders AO FRCS FRACS FAAHMS, University of Western Australia;

• Professor Emma Johnston AO FRSN, University of New South Wales;

• Professor Karen Hussey University of Queensland;

• Mr Phil Clark AM, JP Morgan Advisory Council;

• Professor Glyn Davis AC FASSA FIIPA

Additional members will be announced in due course.