Academy of the Social Sciences recommends consultation to Minister
Wednesday 31 October 2018:
The statement on research grants by Minister Tehan on television this morning was inadequate.
It focused on research grants in the national interest, which is welcome. But for government to lurch from secret research grant political engagement by Minister Birmingham to a policy surprise by morning TV announcement by Minister Tehan is disturbing, particularly when the government already has national science and research priorities provisions and other conditions it can adjust in the grant system.
Research is a long-term investment process. What is needed is steady, sensible policy development based on demonstration of need, systematic review and full consideration of all options, including through consultation. This approach is what has produced our best governance across all fields in the past.
According to the President of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Professor Glenn Withers, “The Academy fully recognises the mutual responsibility that goes with the receipt of taxpayers’ money for research grants. And it stands ready to assist in any advance possible on this and how to sustain our position as one of the world’s top ranked university systems. The Minister might wish to talk to the expert researchers”.
This Academy’s Fellows have contributed mightily to Australia’s wellbeing ranging from inventing HECS and Medicare through to APEC, national competition policy and the immigration points system. The Academy would welcome government recognition of that to help balance the seemingly inevitable political games played around abstruse research titles.
To talk through improvements in the research grant processes would be most welcome and we look forward to the Minister doing just that.