The leaders of Australia's major academic, scientific and business groups have called on the federal government to boost its spending on research and development.
It is the first time the presidents of the key education, science and business organisations have issued a joint statement expressing concern about the government's poor support for research and development. The statement was published in metropolitan daily newspapers.
The presidents urged the government to accept the recommendations of its chief scientist, Robin Batterham, and a report from the National Innovation Summit, which calls for greater incentives for business to invest in R&D, a boost in public investment in competitive research and more spending to provide world-class equipment and facilities.
Releasing their statement as the Olympic Games neared an end, the presidents said that just as in sport, where Australia could not rely on greater numbers for its success, "our effort as innovators and educators must remain above average if we are to compete against the bigger players.
"All success is hard to sustain, and Australia's will be sustained only if we continue to 'punch above our weight' in developing new ideas and new skills."
The groups represented include the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee, the Australian Academy of Science, the Business Council of Australia, the Institution of Engineers, the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce.
The presidents' urging comes at a time when the government is under pressure to provide more funding for higher education and for research. A report released last week by the National Tertiary Education Union revealed that expenditure had fallen "dangerously" over the past three years.