Groups unite in call for political backing on R&D


Life science industry groups have united to urge political parties to adopt a common and shared commitment to R&D.

The statement comes the day after Labor announced plans to reform the R&D Tax Incentive, to add a 'collaboration' premium, while the Coalition in the recent 2019-20 Budget retained savings from a previously announced cut in the claimable benefit.

A recent Senate inquiry chaired by the Coalition's Jane Hume recommended the government delay implementation of the cut to fully consider its impact on R&D.

The new statement was signed by AusBiotech, Medicines Australia, the Medical Technology Association of Australia, Biomedical Research Victoria, ARCS, BioMelbourne Network and Research Australia.

According to the statement, "Creating a business environment that better supports emerging and cutting-edge technologies along the pathway from discovery, through clinical trials, to patients is essential."

"The health industry’s R&D, including clinical trials, is a key contributor to Australia’s economy. The signatories of this media release – from the medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals industry sector and the health and medical research sector – urge all political parties to adopt a common approach to R&D and to take action to support health and medical research by supporting the conditions that allow industry to do its part," it said.

The statement highlighted the sector's $4 billion in added annual gross value to the Australian economy and 230,000 employees.

However, it said total annual expenditure on R&D by Australian business has declined by more than $2 billion (12 per cent) per annum between 2014 and 2016.

"It is now at levels not seen since the global financial crisis. AusBiotech’s 2019 research also shows that over the past 12 months there has been a ‘stinging’ drop in the industry’s confidence that the operating environment (economic conditions and public policy) was conducive to growing a biotech business (37% to 14%) and a strong increase in the view that the operating environment was working against the industry (16% to 26%)," it said.

The groups called on all sides of politics and parliamentarians to take action by committing to support R&D.

"Government needs to increase Australia’s R&D expenditure to three per cent of GDP in the short to medium term - a desirable pursuit which will help to discover new life-enhancing technologies and improve existing ones.

"We note Labor’s commitment yesterday to 'making the R&D tax incentive work' and their target of devoting three per cent of GDP to research. Increasing expenditure in R&D will benefit the full health and medical research pipeline. Australia will be able to facilitate innovative technological developments and capitalise on the benefits the technologies bring if it further enhances the current R&D and business conditions that exist here."