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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
Increasing State Government spending on research is a vital part of any increased focus on science by Premier Colin Barnett, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today.
The Premier’s decision to establish a “round table” on science is an interesting – even novel – move, but without a significant increase in spending on research it will be an empty gesture, AMA (WA) President Dr Richard Choong said.
“Prior to the State election last year, the AMA (WA) released an in depth report and business plan indicating that the State Government needed to spend $40 million dollars a year on research to future proof the intellectual wealth of WA.
The Business Case for WA Health and Research Funding, written by respected economic researchers The Paxon Group, argued that in comparison to the rest of Australia, research in Western Australia suffers from a dramatic funding shortfall.
The report recommended the Government provide $40 million a year in research funding. This funding would, in turn, attract investment from public and private companies along with high-net worth individuals, and would generate a substantial income each year to provide research funding on a wide range of health and medical issues
“Researchers don’t grow on trees and can’t be mined. They need to be nurtured and encouraged and now is the time to show vision and regrow our research capacity,” he said.
“We are a state blessed with many natural wonders and resources. Among those great resources have been stellar researchers who have changed many lives for the better, generated huge health returns and economic gains.”
“Unfortunately over many years, many governments have abysmally neglected health research in WA,” he said.
“While the Government did promise $30 million over four years during the recent state election, this falls extremely short of what is realistically needed to make WA a global frontrunner in medical research.
“We will be making contact with all 14 representatives on Premier Barnett’s roundtable to ensure that or proposal is taken on board and recommended to the Premier,” Dr Choong said.
“Western Australian can and must develop the intellectual and research power of our scientists and other researchers. To do otherwise is to condemn our state to being a quarry of the world rather than a crucible of ideas and research,” Dr Choong said.
The AMA (WA) believes that:
• The State Government must significantly increase its annual investment in health and medical research to reach $40 million per annum on a recurrent basis.
• This funding to be used to create a dedicated WA entity for ongoing health and medical research.
• The funding would be broadly aimed at supporting the highest quality research, leading to the discovery of new ideas and the advancement of knowledge.
• Providing the financial assistance for facilities and equipment that researchers need in order to be internationally competitive.
• Supporting the training and skills development of the next generation of researchers.
• Providing incentives for Australia’s most talented researchers to work in partnership with leading researchers throughout the national innovation system and internationally, and to form alliances with Australian industry.