Senate debates

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Bills

Australian Research Council Amendment Bill 2019; In Committee

1:25 pm

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I move the Greens amendment on sheet 8831:

(1) Schedule 1, page 3 (after line 11), at the end of the Schedule, add:

4 After section 51

Insert:

51A Announcements about approval of expenditure on research programs

(1) The Minister must, within 21 days after making a determination under paragraph 51(2) (b):

(a) make a public announcement of the determination; and

(b) cause a copy of the announcement to be published on the internet.

(2) The Minister must not make an announcement under subsection (1) together with any of the following:

(a) another member of parliament;

(b) a candidate in an election for the Senate or the House of Representatives.

(3) An announcement made under subsection (1) is not a legislative instrument .

(4) To avoid doubt, subsection (1) applies in addition to subsection 51(3).

(5) In this section, member of parliament means:

(a) a senator; or

(b) a member of the House of Representatives; or

(c) a Minister of State who is not a senator or member of the House of Representatives; or

(d) a person who is taken to be the President of the Senate under the Parliamentary Presiding Officers Act 1965 and who is not a senator or member of the House of Representatives; or

(e) a person who is taken to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives under the Parliamentary Presiding Officers Act 1965 and who is not a senator or member of the House of Representatives.

In moving the amendment I would just like to say that this is a pretty straightforward amendment. It will give certainty to researchers and it will prevent what we have seen happen recently. It will prevent the government from playing a public relations and political game with the process and also with our future. We already know from the history of this government, from sustained funding cuts to Minister Birmingham's veto of liberal arts research and Minister Tehan's politicisation of the grants announcements, that the government has time and again disrespected researchers and, frankly, made a mockery of the ARC's independence. It was quite interesting to hear Senator Van in his speech on the bill talk about bipartisanship, when we know that is the exact opposite of what the government did recently when it completely politicised the announcements for ARC grants by locking out crossbench MPs, as well as opposition MPs, from taking any part in making announcements. We do need to make sure that our best minds are given the resources and the independence that they need to do their work and to help address some of the crucial problems that we face, problems such as the climate crisis and problems such as rising inequality. I commend the amendment to the Senate.

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