Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 November 2018


Australian Research Council; Order for the Production of Documents

3:46 pm

Photo of Anne UrquhartAnne Urquhart (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

At the request of Senator Carr, I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

  (i) in evidence to the supplementary Budget estimates hearing of the Education and Employment Legislation Committee, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council (ARC), Professor Sue Thomas, revealed that the former Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham, had vetoed the funding of eleven humanities and social sciences grants,

  (ii) the projects and scholars affected were not notified that their proposal had been deemed successful only to be denied funding by the former Minister; rather this intervention was deliberately and callously kept secret,

  (iii) some of scholars involved have had their careers, professional reputation and employment status materially affected by this political interference,

  (iv) there has been no comprehensive and detailed public explanation of the reason for the exercise of the ministerial veto, despite this being the practice of the past Labor Government, and

  (v) the number of projects in the humanities and social sciences being funded by the ARC has fallen by 35% for Discovery project grants, and 51% for Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) between 2016 and 2018;

(b) condemns this political interference in the normal independent, rigorous and peer review process;

(c) acknowledges the universal condemnation of the Government's position from universities, the learned academies, the research community and ordinary Australians;

(d) urges all political parties, members and senators to commit to the Haldane principle that politicians should not make decisions on funding of individual research projects;

(e) calls on the Federal Government to provide a full and public explanation of why the then Minister for Education and Training arbitrarily rejected these eleven grants recommended by the ARC; and

(f) calls on the ARC to actively encourage the scholars whose grants were rejected to submit them again for the forthcoming grants rounds.


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