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Investing in science, research and energy for Australia's competitive future

12 May 2015

The 2015 Budget is part of the Commonwealth Government’s plan to build a strong, safe and prosperous future for all Australians.

The Government is investing almost $70 million in additional funding for Australia’s leading scientific research organisations to build world-class infrastructure that will create stronger connections between research and industry and maximise Australia’s competitiveness.

Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane said the Government was maintaining its annual investment of around $9 billion in science, research and innovation.

The 2015 Budget delivers $20.5 million to keep the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne operating in 2016-17.  Managed by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), it is the only such facility in the South-East Asia and Oceania regions.

The Government will also provide $49.1 million to ANSTO for the development of Australia’s nuclear science expertise, including the management of Australia’s radioactive waste produced specifically from nuclear medicine production and research into areas of national priority.

“This Budget also includes a four-year investment in the CSIRO of over $3 billion over the forward estimates.  This investment is evidence of the Australian Government’s commitment to the CSIRO and the critical role that it plays in supporting Australian industry,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The Government is making strategic, targeted and smart investments in Australia’s science and research capacity.

“As Australian manufacturing and industry transition into a new phase, the Government is putting science at the centre of industry to identify and seize new jobs and new opportunities in the rapidly changing global economy.”

Mr Macfarlane said the Government’s investment in research infrastructure such as the Synchrotron would spread the benefits from Australia’s sophisticated science community across all sectors of the economy.

“The Synchrotron is critical scientific infrastructure that benefits industries including mining, health, manufacturing, food security, energy and bio‑security, as well as improving productivity and research commercialisation,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Through the Synchrotron, Australia is developing treatments for lung disease and Alzheimer’s and contributing to the development of innovative devices and materials for energy production and transport applications.”

Mr Macfarlane said the Government’s $49.1 million investment in ANSTO’s nuclear research capabilities would underwrite further developments in nuclear science and medicine.

One in two Australians will require access to life-saving nuclear medicines. ANSTO produces 85 per cent of Australia’s requirements. ANSTO also produces 30 per cent of the world’s irradiated silicon, used in applications like fast trains and hybrid cars.

“Invaluable work by ANSTO results in the production of some by-products such as waste that we have a responsibility to manage in a safe and secure way,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“This funding will also allow ANSTO to safely manage the return in 2019 of intermediate‑level waste originally sent from Australia to the UK for reprocessing as part of Australia’s international responsibilities.”

Mr Macfarlane said delaying the return of Australian waste from the UK would cost the taxpayer millions of dollars a year.

The Government is working to establish Australia’s National Radioactive Waste Management Facility for the long-term storage and disposal of waste from the production of lifesaving medicines, and critical scientific and industrial activities.

Mr Macfarlane said the Budget reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to create stronger connections between industry and science, in order to capitalise on new opportunities for economic growth and new jobs, as Australian industry transitions to a new era.

“Industry Growth Centres in food and agribusiness; advanced manufacturing; mining equipment, technology and services; oil, gas and energy resources; and medical technologies and pharmaceuticals will help drive the transformation of Australian industry,” Mr Macfarlane said.

This year the Government will further deliver on its national science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) policy, implement new measures to boost the commercial returns from Australia’s research and establish National Science and Research Priorities.

Media contact: Mr Macfarlane's office 02 6277 7070