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THE HON. BILL SHORTEN
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
SENATOR KIM CARR
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION,
RESEARCH, INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY
SENATOR FOR VICTORIA
LABOR WELCOMES THE NATIONAL MARINE SCIENCE PLAN
Labor welcomes the release of the National Marine Science Plan 2015-2025: Driving
the development of Australia’s blue economy.
This timely report highlights the critical role of science and research in supporting an
industry that is expected to contribute $100 billion per annum to the Australian
economy by 2025.
It makes clear that Australia needs a national, coordinated plan for long-term
investment in marine science and research infrastructure.
Instead, the Abbott Government decided to abolish the Education Investment Fund,
which funded the construction of Australia’s only blue water research vessel, the
RV Investigator, and transfer the money to its failed Asset Recycling Fund.
One of the report’s key recommendations calls on the Abbott Government to
properly fund Australia’s marine research vessels – particularly the RV Investigator.
The previous Labor Government invested $120 million to build a world-class vessel
that is capable of spending 300 days a year at sea.
Yet the Abbott Government took a short-sighted decision in its 2014 Budget to
provide funding for the RV Investigator to spend only 180 days a year at sea.
For the sake of saving $7 million a year, the Abbott Government has consigned the
RV Investigator to spending 120 days a year tied to a dock, when it could be at sea
making new discoveries to support our marine economy and environment.
The Abbott Government’s neglect of marine research infrastructure reflects its
complete lack of research infrastructure strategy.
After almost two years in office, the Government’s most memorable statement on
research infrastructure has been Christopher Pyne’s reckless decision to hold 1700
jobs and 35,000 research projects hostage to $100,000 degrees.
The Abbott Government has a long way to go to repair the damage done by its first
Budget, which ripped $3 billion from Australian science, research and innovation.
These short-sighted cuts included slashing CSIRO funding by $115 million and
funding for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) by $8 million.
These cuts have seen the largest job losses in the CSIRO’s history with one in five
CSIRO employees losing their job over two years.
They have seen AIMS having to scale back use its newly opened National Sea
Simulator and reduce research on marine biodiversity.
It is now up to the Abbott Government to listen to the experts and commit to new
investment in marine science and research that will help protect our precious marine
environment, build the blue economy and deliver the jobs of the future.
WEDNESDAY, 12 AUGUST 2015
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