Page 3339 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 18 September 2013

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will suffer further setbacks under another conservative government. A federal government that does not see the need for a minister for science cannot be accused of indulging in vision. A federal government with plans to diminish and curtail a national broadband network cannot be accused of understanding the opportunities of the modern era. A federal government which intends to audit ARC grant applications for topics they do not like cannot be accused of understanding a rigorous peer-reviewed grants application process.

Of course, the Gillard government’s $2.3 billion cuts to tertiary education to pay for school funding reforms did not inspire a lot of confidence either, but I digress.

We must increase our investment in research and innovation rather than cut it. We must deliver a stable and dependable funding environment to free our researchers from a rolling funding shortfall and to allow them to focus on their work. We must provide the kind of funding which can see projects through to fruition.

As you may not be aware, Australia’s investment in science and research is lagging behind many other developed countries; and, according to the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, we may be set to go backwards. Australia currently invests 2.2 per cent of GDP in research and innovation from both private and public sources, the equivalent of about $900 per person per year in Australia. This is well behind regional competitors Korea and Japan, behind the United States and even further behind world leaders such as Israel, Finland and Sweden. Australian investment in research and innovation currently ranks only 13th amongst OECD member countries and is significantly below the OECD average. Worst of all, our public sector investment has been on the decline in recent years. As the Chief Scientist has recently warned, it may go as low as two per cent in the coming year, one of the lowest national values in the OECD. These cuts to NICTA may signal the next steps in that national decline.

It is with this downward trajectory of funding in mind that we must view these cuts to NICTA, a vibrant and dynamic organisation that has already had such successes as its role in the bionic eye or the operating systems currently driving 1.5 billion mobile phones worldwide. An organisation like NICTA must be supported with a stable and ongoing funding model for Australia to truly reap the benefits of its innovation.

As you have already heard today, the ACT enjoys good working relationships with NICTA through both the territory government and the ANU. As Mr Gentleman’s motion notes, the ACT government was a founding member of NICTA and has committed to significant funding for the organisation.

Science and innovation is the key to future prosperity in Australia, and NICTA is delivering the kinds of innovations that can make a daily contribution to our community. When I visited the facility last year, I saw people working on practical real-world innovations that mean our society can run more efficiently and more effectively.

The TAMS Directorate is already embracing real-world ICT innovations such as our significant investment in Canberra Connect and the recent rollout of our Canberra Connect app. If any members have not yet got it working for them and running on

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