The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Senate Committee has held a public hearing into the Rural Research and Development Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 which proposes to cut $7 million of research and development (R&D) Commonwealth matched dollars to Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) as announced in the May Budget.
The Government proposes to recover the cost of its membership fees to International Commodity Organisations, which were previously paid for by the Department of Agriculture out of appropriation funds.
Today the Senate Committee was told that there has been a lack of consultation with both the RDCs and rural industries on this proposal.
The Senate Committee also heard that the Abbott Government’s cuts are a deviation from the agreed funding arrangements between government and rural industries and that this legislative change will fundamentally change the current funding model.
RDCs were created by Labor in 1989 to undertake scientific research for the benefit of Australian rural industries, with benefits flowing on to consumers, communities and the nation more broadly.
It is a system that is the envy of the world and drives innovation and enhances exports, and Labor will fight to protect it by voting against this Bill in the Senate.
Prior to the election the Abbott Government promised an additional $100 million in research and development funding. They are yet to spend one additional cent and the reality is these additional funds have been offset by unfair budget cuts to rural research and development including:
• $483 million to Landcare
• $80 million to Cooperative Research Centres
• $146.8 million to the CSIRO which will cost around 500 jobs
• $11 million to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
• $6.6 million from the scrapping of the National Water Commission
The Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, needs to stand up for RDCs by acknowledging that the long-term implications of this legislative change will significantly impact on available R&D dollars that support science and innovation in our rural industries.
The Senate report is due on 24 November 2014.
TUESDAY, 11 NOVEMBER 2014