An alliance of 160 health and medical research organisations has warned that without a multi-party commitment, the ground-breaking Medical Research Future Fund risks being dead on arrival.
“When medical researchers, albeit half-jokingly, talk of leaving their labs and taking to the streets, you know something has gone awry with public policy,” said Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin.
Research Australia is the peak group representing Australian researchers, universities, businesses and others in the health and medical research field.
Their warning has come about after increasing concern amongst the industry that the political commitment to the Medical Research Future Fund is waning.
“The Fund was a watershed announcement, not just for our industry, but for the Australian people and health economy. It is not sound policy – it is essential policy,” said Levin.
“When it is implemented, the Medical Research Future Fund will deliver around $1 billion a year for new therapies, treatments, drugs and devices that will directly benefit Australians.
“Every year it is delayed is another year that promising research projects, with potential for new discoveries that saves lives and improve quality of lives, are unfunded and unrealised.
“Aside from the human cost, every dollar that is diverted away from Australian medical research represents a loss of $3.39 future health and productivity gains (Deloitte 2014).
“Without a multi-party consensus, the policy risks being a political football, where there is broad agreement about the principles but not the funding.
“On behalf of the researchers of Australia we call on all parties to commit to the policy, commit to suitable funding mechanisms, and make it happen. It is far too important to fail.”
Current state of play
- Labor has not detailed any commitment to the MRFF in their 100 Positive Policies, however the sector notes that they are continuing to release more policies during the campaign.
- The Greens have endorsed the Medical Research Future Fund, but are yet to release details on the applications and funding mechanisms.
- The Coalition re-endorsed the plan in the 2016 Budget, but there are projected slight slippages and funding shortfalls.