The Australian Labor Party (ALP) is putting the commercialisation of science and research at the centre of the political party’s future job-making policy, which it intends to take to the next election.
Announcing the policy platform in an address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said Australia’s manufacturing sector’s viability relies on an Australian government creating a supportive environment for skill creation, research and innovation.
“Australia needs public policy to support the skills, research and innovation that will build manufacturing capability,” Marles said in his speech. “We need to reinvigorate research and the commercialisation of public research.”
Comparing Australia to other OECD nations like South Korea and Israel, Marles reportedly noted that Australian research and development (R&D) funding has continued to trend downwards to its current level of 1.8 percent of GDP.
In comparison, R&D funding in both South Korea and Israel are nearly at 5 percent of GDP.
While the ALP has yet to decide on what tax policies it will take to the next election, Marles said it is the government’s role to “nurture an environment” where Australians can chase opportunities.
“Our values haven’t changed, but our values must now apply to a new vision for a new world,” Marles said, according to The Australian. “And I do believe this is fundamentally a mission for the modern Labor Party—to provide security and certainty for Australian families and opportunity for their future.”
He pointed to Cicada Innovations as a model for the future. The company is jointly owned by four Australian universities: the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, and the University of Technology Sydney.
“In total, it has helped more than 300 companies to raise more than $450 million, file more than 500 patents and trademarks, launch more than 700 deep tech innovations globally, and in the process helped create hundreds of jobs,” Marles said. “Cicada shows that there are examples of clever commercialisation of science happening in Australia.”
He also emphasised that while commercialising science will be vital to the future, it will also require the country to encourage more students to pursue studies in the STEM fields to support the expansion of research and development.
The speech illustrated Labor’s vision for creating wealth, which contrasts with its traditional policies of wealth re-distribution.