ATSE welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee on the Australian Research Council Amendment (Ensuring Research Independence) Bill 2018. This submission concerns three key areas: upholding national interest in research, promoting confidence in the research funding system, and safeguarding national security.
ATSE is deeply concerned by the use of ministerial veto in recent Australian Research Council (ARC) grant applications. The use of the veto, especially without clear and detailed reasons, makes it impossible for applicants to navigate and address grant requirements. ATSE considers this especially problematic given the role of the ARC in providing grants to researchers that have industry partners. Vetoing research grants reduces trust in the system for both researchers and industry partners alike, and may act as a disincentive against industry partnering with research. Public investment in research should ideally balance providing value to the public and providing confidence – and therefore continuity – to the research and innovation sector.