The Australian 3 September 2012
The government is understood to have imposed a clampdown on $2bn in grants in its attempt to return a $1.5bn budget surplus. Ministers have been told to control any spending on grants that had not already been contracted. If the government were to cancel rather than just postpone, the spending the bill would run to $1.3 billion.
Universities say the Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council are targets. Researchers would also be hit by a freeze on grants channelled through medical research institutes and various bureaucracies, including the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
“Non-essential programs” for university teaching, equity and infrastructure may also be in the government’s sights.
A spokesman for Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans says:
No decision has been made to freeze research and innovation funding. Analysing the levels of existing program expenditure is a normal part of the budget process.