In the lead up the 2013 election, Barnaby Joyce’s Coalition promised to increase agriculture research and development by $100 million. He hasn’t.
Indeed more than $100 million was cut from research and development programs in agriculture and forestry – from the CSIRO, Cooperative Research Centres and the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC).
It was not until May 2015 Minister Joyce finally announced $26 million would be allocated under Rural Research and Development for Profit Programme and yet two months later – in his Agriculture White Paper – he announced another $100 million. Three years after the 2013 election, funds allocated under the programme total just $78.9 million, much less than R&D cuts elsewhere.
Why did the Minister announce another $100 million when he’d only been able to spend $26 million in two years?
Why did he not wait for the programme to be assessed before promising more money?
The ANAO has made a number of damning findings about the Programme including:
• There was limited evidence to justify the second allocation of $100 million.
• The reasons for allocating the additional $100 million were not documented.
• The delivery method was not tested against other alternatives.
• Performance assessments, progress monitoring, and measures of the success of the programme in meeting its objectives were all lacking.
It is clear the second round of funding was typical Barnaby Joyce pork-barrelling. He knew he could not spend the first round pre-election but announced another round of funding without assessing the first and without any policy justification.
Barnaby Joyce is all spin and no delivery.
His R&D under-spend represents yet another broken election promise and the agriculture sector is the loser.