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Budget promises steady science funding; Chris Pyne carps on about innovation

6 May 2016

Funding for science is set to remain steady in the near future, with the federal budget featuring the government’s plan to spend $1.1 billion on the National Innovation and Science Agenda over the next four years. The plan will see the introduction of tax incentives for investors and an Entrepreneur Visa, among other measures.

Most of the plans highlighted in the budget had already been announced late last year when the National Innovation and Science Agenda was launched, but politicians will be politicians.

The government has also committed to increase funding to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, in part to ensure that waste created during the production of nuclear medicines is more efficiently disposed of. Funding will also go towards research for updating Australia’s OPAL reactor, which currently produces 85 per cent of Australia’s nuclear medicines.

Australia is looking to increase the size of its financial technology industry by committing $200,000 to its promotion internationally. According to budget papers, financial technology will play an important role in Australia’s transition away from a resources-based economy.

In exchange for these initiatives, a number of programs have either been discontinued or had funding reduced this year. These include the Manufacturing Transition Programme; the Clean Energy Future program and Low Carbon Communities initiative; and the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Investment and Innovation Programs.

[Read more of Farrago’s coverage of the finance and economics of the budget.]

But who are the main losers in this year’s science and industry portfolio?

Carp.

The government has committed $15 million to clean up Australia’s waterways, through the establishment of a ministerial taskforce to develop a National Carp Control Plan. It may come as a surprise, but the humble carp is a massive problem in Australia’s waterways, causing around $500 million in damage per year.

“The common carp is Australia’s worst freshwater aquatic pest, making up 95 per cent of fish biomass in the Murray Darling basin,” said Christopher Pyne, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

The government will use the $15 million to develop a plan in consultation with communities, begin the process of culling and appoint a National Carp Control Officer.

What can we say but carpe diem, Chris Pyne.


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