ATSE urges gov’t to boost R&D investment and climate targets in federal budget

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The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) is calling on the Australian Government to substantially increase research and development (R&D) funding in the upcoming Federal budget.

The academy warns that the nation risks falling behind technologically and economically if urgent action is not taken, as revealed in a news release.

Data reported shows Australia is facing a critical challenge as its investment in R&D hits a 30-year low, jeopardising the country’s economic growth and technological progress.

In response, ATSE has submitted a pre-budget proposal urging the government to elevate R&D investment to three per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This target is part of a comprehensive whole-of-government strategy that spans the entire research pipeline.

Kylie Walker, CEO of ATSE, emphasised the role of science and innovation in fostering economic growth, productivity, and the development of a skilled science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce.

“To reach the target of 3% of GDP invested in R&D by 2035, we need an annual increase of approximately $2 billion from the Australian Government, supported by an industry investment of a further $2.4 billion annually,” stated Walker.

She highlighted that a staggered investment plan over the next decade could position Australia closer to global R&D leaders such as the United States, Japan, and Germany.

This shift could generate an additional $133 billion for the Australian economy each year, underlining the potential returns on such investments.

Australia currently ranks 93rd globally in economic complexity, a position that ATSE said could be improved significantly through a stronger commitment to R&D.

Walker warns that inaction leaves the country vulnerable to economic disruption, while other nations continue to strengthen their R&D investments.

ATSE’s pre-budget submission also urges the government to set a more ambitious target and establish a plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.

This initiative aims to spur innovation, galvanize industry action, and drive investment in low-emission and renewable technologies.

Walker stresses the urgency of taking decisive climate action, stating, “Scientific consensus implores us to take far greater action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Decisive climate action today will avert catastrophic economic, environmental, and social costs tomorrow.”

She continued, “It will charge up Australia’s pathway to achieve its ambition of becoming a strong and successful exporter of clean energy and associated technologies, powering the global energy transition.”

ATSE’s pre-budget submission, outlining these critical recommendations, is accessible online for further insights into the academy’s proposals.