I'll be the first to admit that I have a vested interest here, seeing as it's my field being directly affected. But this is still important, and I hope that you'll take an interest.
The ALP Federal government is planning on cutting the National Health and Medical Research Center (NHMRC, the only source of federal medical research funding) budget by 20% over 3 years to "restore a budget surplus". At the same time, they are also planning on cutting the healthcare budget. This means that those least able to afford healthcare will be hit directly. So much for being the party for "working families".
Here is Penny Wong's explanation of the ALP's stance: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news...-1226036877643
While I am personally financially conservative and approve of the principle of saving for a rainy day, consider that the research budget is merely $600 million a year. Compare that to the recent estimated cost of the NBN, at $44 BILLION. As a sidenote, the federal government also recently increased our olympic atheletes' training budget by $3 million. Their argument that the cuts "have to come from somewhere" and that healthcare/medical research cuts are a necessary evil just doesn't fly.
Please, please take an interest in this. It affects lives, and the future of medical research (and correspondingly the cost of future healthcare) in Australia. That's an estimated 600 medical research labs to close over the next 3 years. The existing grant funding rate of the NHMRC is already low, at 13% last year. Is this how Julia Gillard intends to promote higher education?
Many of us are going to attend a rally to protest these cuts tomorrow. It's the first time I've ever seen my supervisor give our research assistant the afternoon off work (that's not included in her allowed personal time). It's also the first time that I've ever gotten involved "politically". But I personally feel that it's not political, it's a statement supporting intellectual and human progress in Australia.
Here are the rally times and venues that have been organised across the country:
All the rallies (except for Perth) are organised for tomorrow.
Melbourne - State Library of Victoria (Swanston Street), 12:45pm
Sydney - Belmore Park (near Central Railway station), 12:45pm
Adelaide - Steps of Parliament House, North Terrace, 12:30pm
Canberra - JCSMR, ANU Building 131, 12:30pm
Perth - Forrest Place, Murray Street Mall, Thursday April 14 commencing at 12pm.
We are trying to attract as many people and as much media attention as possible. Please come if you can, or if you can't, we are also holding a virtual rally on twitter by using the hashtag #protectresearch at the time of the rally. Our campaign is called "Discoveries need dollars", and is organised by the Walter and Elizabeth Hall Institute in collaboration with many other research institutes and universities across the nation. Please support the people who have invested their lives in the future of your health.