Thursday, 27 February 2020
Australian Research Council Grant Recommendations; Order for the Production of Documents
At the request of Senator Pratt, I move:
(1) There be laid on the table, by the Minister responsible for the Australian Research Council, or when that minister is in the House of Representatives, the minister in the Senate representing that minister, by not later than 15 days after the end of the previous calendar month, a letter of advice that a list, meeting the requirements of paragraph (2), of all Australian Research Council grant recommendations received by the responsible minister each month, has been published on the Internet.
(2) The list of grant recommendations must be published in a machine readable format and specify the following information for each recommendation:
(a) identification or application number;
(b) title of application;
(c) scheme or stream;
(d) date received by the responsible minister;
(e) whether the grant was approved or not approved by the responsible minister;
(f) date of the responsible minister's decision;
(g) date the applicant was informed of the grant outcome;
(h) the amount of funding granted (if any); and
(i) whether the grant was publicly announced and, if so, the date of the announcement.
(3) If the Senate is not sitting when the letter is ready for presentation, the letter is to be presented to the President under standing order 166.
(4) This order is of continuing effect.
The Greens support this order for the production of documents, given the lack of transparency in the Morrison government and how they have politicised research grants. It is absolutely shameful. It wasn't too long ago that the Liberals inserted a jingoistic so-called national interest test for ARC grants. It wasn't too long ago that Senator Birmingham vetoed research grants that had gone through rigorous processes to be recommended for funding. During the election, the Morrison government used ARC grant announcements to try to gain electoral benefit. Academic research funding in Australia should be completely independent of the government of the day. That is why the Greens have a bill to take away the minister's unilateral veto of research grants. This political interference in research grants is despicable and it must stop.
The government recognises the importance of promoting the value of billions of dollars invested in research—$3.3 billion over the next four years—to the people who pay for it: taxpayers. In October 2019, in response to representations from the sector, the minister asked that, in future, the ARC notify applicants of their outcomes under embargo in advance of any government announcement, ensuring that they are informed sooner than ever before, and that projects can be commenced and recruitment therefore undertaken.
Question agreed to.