The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program has a global reputation as one of the most successful mechanisms for bringing researchers and end-users together to build sustained collaborations that deliver significant real world impacts. Yet the Abbott-Turnbull Government has badly mismanaged the program.
The Liberals stripped $107 million from the CRC program over the 2014 and 2015 Budgets. They cancelled one round of funding; failed to announce the continuation of two CRCs until their funding was within two months of expiring; created significant uncertainty with a review initially based on a recommendation to abolish the program; and delayed the next round of funding while all current CRCs were reviewed. As a result of this dysfunction and neglect, the first funding round for new CRCs under the Liberal Government closed in February 2016 and no new CRCs have yet been funded.
A Shorten Labor Government will boost CRC funding, to enable two additional rounds of funding to be delivered. This initiative – in combination with Labor’s significant commitments to other science and research measures – will go some way to fixing the damage the Liberals have inflicted on Australia’s innovation system.