15 June 2011
The Government has committed to maintaining government matching contributions to rural research and development corporations, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Joe Ludwig said today.
Minister Ludwig said the decision to continue contributions had been made as part of the Government’s preliminary response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry report on rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), tabled in Parliament this afternoon.
“Last February the Government asked the Productivity Commission to conduct an inquiry into RDCs which included an examination of the rationale for Australian Government investment in rural R&D and the effectiveness of the model overall,” Minister Ludwig said.
“That inquiry found that current funding arrangements, as well as the high level of industry engagement and support offered by all sectors, made our RDC model unique amongst others around the world.
“The inquiry also found a need to increase private investment in rural R&D – a need the Productivity Commission sought to address by recommending we lower the cap on Government contributions to encourage industry to contribute their own funding.
“While I fully support the need to increase private investment in rural R&D, I do not believe cutting Government contributions is the appropriate method to achieve greater industry investment.
“The Australian Government contributed more than $220 million in matching funding to the rural RDCs in 2009-10. With improved seasonal conditions this is set to grow in 2010-11.
“R&D plays a vital role in supporting the sustainability, competitiveness and productivity growth of Australia’s rural industries, and the Government’s matching contributions are a key factor in leveraging industry funding.”
“I do, however, see a need to explore how to optimise outcomes for industry and the wider community within the current funding arrangements.”
The Australian Government currently matches eligible R&D expenditure on a dollar-by-dollar basis up to 0.5 per cent of an industry’s gross value of production.
Minister Ludwig said the Rural Research and Development Council’s National Strategic Rural Research and Development Investment Plan was also released today.
“This plan outlines a rationale for balancing Australian Government investment in rural R&D and identifies major themes against which investment should be determined,” Minister Ludwig said.
The Government will consult broadly with the community in developing its final response to the Productivity Commission’s report over coming months.
The Productivity Commission’s report is available.
The National Strategic Rural R&D Investment Plan and the Government’s preliminary response to the Productivity Commission’s report are available on the website.