This year’s federal budget for science has been described as “business as usual”. 

Support for science and research in the 2023–24 Federal Budget will see continued investment in Australian universities, science agencies, national research infrastructure, training scientists, supporting business research and development (R&D) and the broader science system.

It is better than the attacks of previous budgets, but is still well behind some of Australia’s international counterparts. 

Figures released in late April show that the Australian Government’s investment in science, research and innovation is the lowest on record at 0.49 per cent of GDP.

“Reversing the downward trend of government investment in R&D is not the work of any single budget,” says Australian Academy of Science President Professor Chennupati Jagadish. 

“It will take a decade or more of commitment and effort from government, industry and the higher education sector to boost total investment in R&D. Work must start today.”

The budget makes investments that should recognise the value that science brings to the nation, including:

  • $4.5 billion in science and research through universities in 2023–24 and $3.3 billion to support research and development in industry

  • more than $3.5 billion in the science agencies like CSIRO, including welcome ongoing funding for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Questacon: Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre

  • funding to establish Environment Protection Australia, Environment Information Australia, review the Murray Darling Basin Plan and reform our failing environmental laws

  • other necessary investments in science advice through the National Science and Technology Council, supporting the National Reconstruction Fund, Quantum science and responsible artificial intelligence

But it is not all good news. The Australian Government’s flagship initiative to invest in international collaboration, the Global Science and Technology Diplomacy Fund, has been earmarked for reductions over the forward estimates.

“Acknowledging that there is ongoing work within the government to modernise policy settings for the science system, Australia still lacks a whole of government and society plan to improve Australia’s dwindling level of research and development investment,” the Academy says. 

It recommends two key actions to improve the stakes for science in Australia - formalising policy to get a national target to lift R&D from 1.79 per cent to 3 per cent and an independent review of the entire science and research system.