Update: It appears that this money will be redirected to medical research projects, hurting social sciences and perhaps other ARC projects. See here for instance.
A bill currently being debated in the Australian parliament will set the funding of the Australian Research Council (ARC) for the next four years. The ARC is the main body that administers funding for the Australian research community. The National Health and Medical Research Council also administers a large amount of funding specifically for medical research.
The bill sets the funding planned for the next four years. I will quote the actual amendment, but the important thing to focus on here are the dollar amounts.
(n) for the financial year starting on 1 July 2013—$883,959,000; and
(o) for the financial year starting on 1 July 2014—$853,110,000; and
(p) for the financial year starting on 1 July 2015—$783,253,000; and
(q) for the financial year starting on 1 July 2016—$716,205,000.
It appears that Tony Abbott is planning a dramatic funding cut, and he is, but it would be interesting to see the historical context.
The CPI is the consumer price index. If the ARC is to to maintain its funding then it should roughly grow at the same rate as the CPI.
The previous 5 bills introduced under John Howard, Kevin Rudd, and Julia Gillard’s prime ministerships are shown along with the figures from the most recent bill.
It looks like in 2006 John Howard planned to track the ARC back to the 2004 funding level. With the global financial crisis Kevin Rudd planned an increase in funding with the 2008 and 2010 bills. Julia Gillard began to promise a return to surplus, and this is reflected in two more bills, one in 2010 and another in 2011. It is interesting to see that the actual funding has always been adjusted upwards from that planned under the previous 5 bills. If someone knows why this is, then please comment below.
Like Gillard’s bills, the new legislation increases the funding for the immediate future, but also sets future reduction. However, the cuts in this bill are much more dramatic than in previous bills. They represents a 20% reduction in funding over 4 years, returning total funding to the same level that it was in 2005 (after adjusting for CPI growth). This removes all the increases that were made under the Labor governments and restores the ARC’s funding to the level that was set by John Howard in 2005.
Data: You can collect the raw data by going to the Australian Parliament website and search for Australian Research Council Amendment Bill.