The Federal Government has released its final response to last year's Productivity Commission inquiry into Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) and the National Strategic Rural R&D Investment plan.
In June last year the Government announced that it would not adopt the commission’s recommendation to reduce the gross value of production cap on matching funding to RDCs.
The Government stated that its matching contributions were a key pillar of the funding model, and there was a risk that reducing Government contributions would undermine the model’s strength and potentially jeopardise the government-industry partnership that underpins the model.
It said a reduction in Government funding would lead to an overall reduction in the amount of R&D undertaken which would have adverse effects on the rural sector.
The Government this morning released a new policy statement to outline the steps it believes are required to address the remaining key recommendations from the commission and the Rural Research and Development Corporation’s National Strategic Rural R&D Investment plan, also released June 2011.
The Government says the actions outlined in the new policy statement do not propose large-scale changes to the existing system, but are intended to ensure the effectiveness of the RDC model and the wider rural RD&E system into the future, provide clarity to system participants on government priorities and expectations, and outline the government’s role in system oversight to ensure rural R&D results in optimal outcomes and provides a strong return on investment.
The Government contributes more than $700 million annually to rural research and development through RDCs, Cooperative Research Centres, the CSIRO and universities.
At a launch in Brisbane this morning, agriculture minister Joe Ludwig said the Government remained committed to the Research and Development Corporation model.
Minister Ludwig said key changes included:
- measuring performance across the broader rural R&D system;
- greater collaboration of RDCs on cross-sectoral research such as soils and climate change;
- enabling RDCs to undertake marketing if requested by industry and funded by a dedicated levy;
- matching government funding for private voluntary contributions where research findings are public; and
- moves to attract more private domestic and international investment.
“This statement goes hand in hand with work we’re already doing as part of the National Food Plan green paper which asks whether the best way to increase innovation and productivity over the medium to long term is to increase investment in rural R&D,” Minister Ludwig said.
“Research and development underpins future productivity and innovation within our rural industries. It drives growth, maintains our competitiveness internationally, and means rural Australia can make the most of opportunities and respond to challenges.
“Australian producers are some of the most innovative and productive in the world, and ongoing government and industry commitment to R&D will help keep us on the front foot.”
Domestically, rural productivity had increased at more than twice the rate of other industries.
The statement and more information is available at www.daff.gov.au/rdpolicy.