6 January 2022
The Acting Minister of Education, the Hon Stuart Robert MP, has vetoed the funding of six Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Discovery Project applications. These projects out of 3500 applications had been approved for funding by the ARC’s College of Experts which is currently made up of 201 senior academics.
Against this recommendation arrived at by knowledgeable deliberation amongst experts from different fields, the Minister has singly exercised his discretionary power to refuse funding and giving as the sole reason that the projects “do not demonstrate value for taxpayers’ money.”
In doing so, the Minister has violated the principle that in a democracy political authority must depend on transparent and reasoned decision making.
Therefore, we call on Parliament to institute legislative measures that accord the liberty of science, research and teaching better protection from future infringements and thus follow the international law and convention in other democratic societies.
Until reconsidered, the Minister’s decision remains on his permanent historical record as a violation of the independence of research and the deliberative process through which funding is allocated and assures that the Australian national interest is served, and taxpayers’ money is indeed well spent.