Greens welcome ARC Bill calling it “a win for independent research”


Today, the Senate passed the Australian Research Council Amendment (Review Response) Bill 2023 which establishes an ARC board that will decide on funding the bulk of research projects, not the Education Minister.

This Bill is a win for the Greens and researchers, who have long fought for research independence and an end to  political interference in ARC grants. 

The Greens secured amendments that have improved the Bill, by: 

  • making it an objective of the ARC to support Australian universities to attract and retain academic researchers and promote quality academic jobs 
  • requiring reporting on the nature of employment of researchers employed using ARC funding to provide a clearer picture of job insecurity which is rife in the sector 
  • inserting a requirement for the Minister to ensure the ARC Board reflects the diversity of the community
  • requiring an independent review of the ARC Board, to begin two years after the significant changes made by this Bill are implemented

In 2018, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens and spokesperson for Education, introduced a bill to remove the ministerial veto over ARC grant approvals, with 85% of submissions supporting the removal of the veto power as part of the 2022 Senate Inquiry into this bill.  

Previously, at least four Liberal Ministers, on six occasions have intervened and rejected over 30 research proposals which were recommended for funding By the ARC.

Quotes attributable to Senator Faruqi: 

“Getting rid of the Minister’s veto power for the bulk of research grants is a big win for all of us who have worked to end political and ideological interference in research. 

“Five years after my bill to remove the Minister’s veto power, parliament has finally agreed with us - independent peer review and research expertise, not political whims, should determine research funding.

“This can be the start of restoring our international reputation in research, which has been tarnished by political interference from Liberal Ministers. 
“I congratulate the research community who have pushed long and hard for this change. 

“For far too long, the research sector has been plagued by political interference, under-funding, and job insecurity and work remains to properly fund research and ensure job security for researchers. 

“Australian research has so much potential which will not be realised without substantial, long-term public funding, and better pay and working conditions for researchers. The Government must act on this urgently.

“The Greens will continue our work to ensure more public funding for a thriving research sector, with diverse and democratic governance, and where researchers have academic freedom, secure jobs and fair pay.”