WA Labor commits to medical research future fund

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WA Labor has committed to invest interest generated from the state's $1 billion Future Fund in medical research.

The commitment comes just weeks before the 11 March state election at which the ruling Liberal government led by Colin Barnett is seeking a third term.

Labor leader Mark McGowan says, if elected, the party will establish the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund to help commercialise the state's medical research.

According to Mr McGowan, the fund will provide a secure source of funding to develop research capability, high quality infrastructure and world-first clinical studies for patients to improve the future health of all Western Australians.

"It will break the cycle of peaks and troughs that currently exists for medical research funding and will create a secure, long term funding stream to support research and innovation," he said.

The fund mimics the federal government's $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, announced in the 2014-15 Budget, which is expected to distribute an extra $1 billion every year in funding for medical research from early next decade.

Mr McGowan said the state's current Future Fund will be re-purposed to create an investment fund that will be overseen by an actuarial board.

"The interest generated from the Fund will be made available by application for high quality research projects, growing our health and scientific communities as global leaders in medical research and innovation.

"It will have a focus on research relating to cancers, child health and other diseases in which WA has an international standing."

Premier Colin Barnett criticised the proposal. He said the fund was established so future generations could benefit from the proceeds of the resources boom "so to go out and spend it on any other program just undermines the concept of leaving the wealth of today for the future."