SYDNEY—Australian scientists are bracing for an era of tighter government funding for basic research following release of the federal budget.
Although the country’s fiscal year began July 1, the new budget was not announced until mid-September because of elections held July 11. The delay was unsettling for Australia’s research community, which in one way or another derives about 80 percent of its support from the government.
Government minister John Dawkins has bluntly told the nation’s academic community that its research must be directed toward “national goals.” He is expected to use the newly established Australian Research Council to favor applied research that can be shown to have immediate benefits for the Australian economy (see THE SCIENTIST, September 21, p. 4). Researchers in basic fields are publicly expressing fears that their work will be squeezed out in the rush for the limited funds available for equipment and technical staff.