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Science in action to support our economy

3 May 2016

The 2016-17 Budget will commit vital funding to support science in action which will in turn support Australia’s successfully transitioning economy.

The Turnbull Government will clean up our waterways and ensure our nuclear waste is disposed of more efficiently, saving taxpayers money.

Through the 2016-17 Budget, the Government will:

  • Commit $15 million to clean up Australia’s waterways with up to 95 per cent of the carp in the Murray Darling Basin expected to be culled as a result of National Carp Control Plan.
  • Re-profile vital funding to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to ensure nuclear waste created during the production of vital medicines is more efficiently disposed of.

The Australian Government will establish a Ministerial taskforce to develop a National Carp Control Plan to tackle the impact of the common carp on Australia’s waterways.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, said the $15 million would enable us to develop the plan on carp control, engage in extensive community consultations and start the process of release and clean up. To lead the effort, the Government will appoint a national carp control officer, who will be supported by a taskforce working with state and territory governments to ensure the biological control is implemented effectively.

“The common carp is Australia’s worst freshwater aquatic pest, making up 95 per cent of fish biomass in the Murray Darling Basin,” Mr Pyne said.

“The economic impacts of carp infestations are estimated at up to $500 million per annum and most felt in regional Australia, for example along the Murray River. Many native fish are listed as vulnerable, or threatened with extinction.

“Over the past eight years the CSIRO and the Invasive Animals CRC have been conducting research which has proven that this virus is safe for humans and Australia’s fish and wildlife. Now the Government is committing to follow through on this good work to ensure that a release of the virus can happen as soon as possible, and no later than the end of 2018.”

Also contained in the 2016-17 Budget is vital funding for Australia’s OPAL research reactor, operated by ANSTO. Mr Pyne said updating the spent fuel management plan for the OPAL reactor would more efficiently dispose of the nuclear waste created when the facility makes its vital nuclear medicine products, accessed on average by one in two Australians over their lifetime.

“The OPAL reactor produces 85 per cent of Australia’s potentially life-saving nuclear medicines as well as being the heart of ANSTO’s research capabilities, helping industries solve complex problems and enabling nationally important research.” Mr Pyne said.

“Lower risk and more cost effective options for treatment in France have recently become available, so under a long term contract with French company AREVA, OPAL’s spent fuel will be progressively sent to France for reprocessing, potentially saving taxpayers millions of dollars over the lifetime of the reactor.”

Mr Pyne also said the Government was making strong progress towards implementing the $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) which will support a culture of ideas and innovation to encourage commercialisation, reward enterprise and facilitate investment. The Government’s achievements so far include:

  • Introduced legislation for tax incentives for angel investors, which will make it easier for innovative startups access early stage capital to grow their businesses.
  • Advanced a range of measures such as the new Entrepreneur Visa and Incubator Support Programme, which will be implemented early in the new financial year.
  • Launched a landing pad in San Francisco, and announced landing pads in Shanghai, Tel Aviv and Berlin. The new Landing Pads will make it easier for Australian entrepreneurs to expand into new, high-growth markets.
  • Announced the co-chairs of the Cyber Security Growth Centre and reenergised Innovation and Science Australia with new vibrant membership to ensure innovation and science is placed at the centre of Government policy making.

“The NISA is helping Australia harness new sources of growth to deliver economic prosperity and the Turnbull Government is delivering on it. We have already introduced into Parliament legislation to provide tax incentives for early stage investors and new arrangements for venture capital investment, which will make it easier for startups to attract vital investment,” said Minister Pyne.

“Funding for additional science in action initiatives in the 2016-17 Budget will also support the NISA and deliver environmental and medical benefits to Australians living across our country.”

Mr Pyne’s Media:
Rory Grant: 0439 764 809, pynemedia [at] industry.gov.au
Eleisa Hancock: 0427 981 990, pynemedia [at] industry.gov.au
Department media: media [at] industry.gov.au