Submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Australian Research and Development Corporations
- Year: 2010
- Author: Thomas, Geoff
- Journal Name: Agricultural Science
- Journal Number: Vol. 22, No. 2
- Country: Australia
The Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology (AIAST) as the peak body representing agricultural professionals and natural resource managers in Australia strongly supports the current Research Corporation Model and the joint industry/Commonwealth funding formula. This view is based on the strength of joint contributions in generating both private and public good outcomes. AIAST recognises the proven importance of research, development and extension in the growth in productivity of the sector, not only in terms of its benefit to the economy but the critical role agriculture does and will continue to play in the health of the economy, managing natural resources, adjusting to climate change, sustaining rural communities, and in Australia playing its part in feeding a rapidly growing world population. AIAST is therefore very concerned with the recent cuts by governments to RD and E investment, especially given that the industry and private sectors do not have the capacity to fill the gaps. AIAST believes that any consideration of the RDC Model must take into account the broader environment in which RD and E operates and highlights several issues to do with the lack of vision, the image of agriculture, the lack of government commitment, the evaluation of programs in private and public good terms, the need to improve farmer decision making skills, and the urgent need to build the capacity of the agricultural profession at the undergraduate and post graduate levels. The AIAST believes that improvements to the RDC Model can be made by confirming the original purpose, reconnecting Commonwealth, State and RDC Programs at local and macro levels, simplifying project application and reporting procedures, and retaining the current compulsory levy/fund sharing arrangement.