Submission to the Treasury

Pre-budget submission 2023-24


Pre-budget submission 2023-24

Published January 2023

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Bringing together Australia’s leading thinkers in applied science, technology, and engineering, ATSE provides impartial, practical, and evidence-based advice on how to achieve sustainable solutions and advance prosperity. ATSE welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the 2023-24 Federal Budget.

Innovation is the fundamental source of economic and social progress and is an essential part of maintaining a strong and prosperous nation. Australia’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) sector provides an essential basis for our nation’s innovation. Supporting the STEM sector can help us tackle emerging health crises, engineer the food of the future, turn Australian resources into the energy of tomorrow and build a strong and stable economy. To be at the forefront of international innovation, Australia needs to build itself on a foundation of world-class science and technology.

In this submission, ATSE provides a series of recommendations that will help build Australia’s ability to respond to the challenges and harness the opportunities our nation faces. Throughout, ATSE highlights opportunities to address the critical needs of the STEM sector right now, the needs of the sector for building a strong STEM ecosystem into the future, and how STEM can be deployed to help tackle the biggest challenge facing Australia, climate change.

Some of these recommendations require urgent action and should be implemented by the Australian Government immediately. To support Treasury’s assessment of the urgency of these recommendations, ATSE has grouped recommendations into three categories, “High Priority”, “Priority” and “Supporting”. This is underpinned by a critical recommendation that is, in ATSE’s view, the single most important recommendation the Australian Government could adopt to improve the state of science and technology in this country.

Recommendations from ATSE’s submission

ATSE makes 16 recommendations, which have been grouped to aid the Government in prioritising them. Due to the quantity and formatting of the recommendations, there are no recommendation numbers in this submission.

Critical Recommendation

  • The Australian Government commits to conducting an independent review of Australia’s research sector, with a view to raising sector-wide funding to an internationally competitive level.

High Priority Recommendations

  • The Australian Government establishes a National Engineering Council.
  • The Australian Government funds the full cost of teaching undergraduate and postgraduate STEM courses.
  • The Australian Government conducts a whole of workforce foresight study to identify emerging skills gaps and develop a national strategy for STEM.
  • The Australian Government develops and promotes a National Skills Taxonomy to align educators, government, and industry, with associated analysis and forecasting of skills supply and demand.
  • The Australian Government invests in near-term emissions reductions using proven technologies and strategically invests in emerging emissions reduction technologies to develop their economic viability.

Priority Recommendations

  • The Australian Government provides financial support for an Indigenous STEM Network.
  • The Australian Government supports the expansion of ATSE’s Diversity and Inclusion toolkit.
  • The Australian Government develops and funds a Regional, Rural and Remote Mathematics Community of Practice.
  • The Australian Government expands funding for the Elevate: Boosting Women in STEM scholarships.
  • The Australian Government provides funding to expand the IMNIS Ignite internship program.
  • The Australian Government implements the Australian Energy Research Plan developed by the Australian Council of Learned Academies.
  • The Australian Government invests in widespread electric vehicle charging infrastructure, supported by common standards and power supply infrastructure

Supporting Recommendations

  • The Australian Government funds the development of a targeted, actionable, and achievable plan outlining immediate opportunities for Australia-Pacific STEM collaboration.
  • The Australian Government develops a paid internship scheme for undergraduate mathematics students to engage in teaching, with a particular focus on Regional, Rural and Remote areas.
  • The Australian Government develops a central hub for STEM teaching and careers resources.