Election 2019 – The Medical Research Snapshot

Election 2019 – The Medical Research Snapshot

16th May, 2019

We have now received responses from all major parties to the AAMRI Election Statement, and we are delighted all three parties have committed to our number one priority – to fully fund the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to $20 billion by 2020-21.

You can read the formal responses to AAMRI’s Election Statement from the Coalition, Labor and the Greens on our website.

Australia’s medical research sector is one of the best in the world, making ground-breaking discoveries and delivering new effective treatments. This takes strategic and intelligent funding to help guide discoveries from the lab through to the patient. It also means investing in high quality research projects, as well as putting in place a research environment that attracts and retains the brightest researchers in Australia.

To ensure this continues and gives Australia the best opportunity of having the most efficient healthcare system possible, AAMRI asked for the following three areas to be a priority for all parties and candidates this Election:

1. Stick to the 2018–19 Budget commitments and deliver a fully funded Medical Research Future Fund by 2020–21 so we can turn our amazing medical research discoveries into improved health outcomes more quickly and efficiently.

Responses

All three major parties have committed to fully funding the MRFF to $20 billion in line with the current 2020-21 timeline. We are delighted to see this multi-party support for medical research and congratulate all three parties in recognising the need for backing Australia’s medical research sector. Once the MRFF is fully funded it is expected to invest around $1 billion each year into medical research, delivering new health benefits for generations to come.

  • The Coalition – “As outlined in the 2019-20 Budget, under the Morrison Government the MRFF endowment fund will mature at $20 billion in 2020-21, providing a sustainable, ongoing source of funding for vital medical research.”
  • Labor – “Labor is determined to see the MRFF reach $20 billion, and a Shorten Labor Government will achieve this target on the current timeline, i.e. in 2020-21.”
  • The Greens – “As we have discussed the Australian Greens support the full capitalisation of the Medical Research Future Fund as set out in the forward estimates and recently released Commonwealth Budget.”

2. Provide continued strong support for new discoveries through the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Responses

AAMRI asked parties to commit to increasing NHMRC grants above inflation. As the cost of research increases with inflation, NHMRC grants also need to grow otherwise scientists will not have the resources they need to make new discoveries.

  • The Coalition have responded by saying they would increase NHMRC grants in line with current indexation arrangements in the Budget.
  • Labor has said they would continue to support the NHMRC and give ‘future consideration’ to the priorities listed by AAMRI.
  • The Greens have promised an additional $345.1 million for the NHMRC over the forward estimates.

3. Attract and retain our best medical researchers by developing sustainable and rewarding career pathways.

Responses

To ensure the ongoing vitality of Australia’s medical research sector we need to invest in the next generation of researchers. This is even more essential for female researchers who are currently underrepresented at mid and senior career levels in the medical research sector.

  • The Coalition stated that they would invest in the Frontiers program as well as clinician researcher fellowships.
  • Labor stated that the MRFF offers new opportunities to support mid-career researchers and would work with the sector to explore opportunities.
  • The Greens said they would spend $2.5 billion over the decade to support equitable and ongoing employment for researchers, including providing additional support for early and mid-career researchers.

Other medical research election commitments

There have been several other notable election commitments for medical research and these are listed in full on our website.