Editor's note

Yesterday’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook delivered some bad news for universities: A$130 million per year cut from research funding. This is on top of last year’s cuts to student places at universities. Margaret Gardner says this doesn’t make any sense given it’s a surplus budget, and it jeopardises Australia’s standing as a global research leader.

The budget overall has been gifted A$31 billion as a result of a better economy than expected at budget time in May. But only $15 billion of it will go to improve the budget’s bottom line. The rest will be spent on things such as aged care, infrastructure, and extra tax cuts we don’t yet know about ($9 billion in “decisions taken but not yet announced”). Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has allocated the funds in defiance of one of the government’s five fiscal targets reprinted in the budget update. Danielle Wood examines the government’s performance against each of the targets and awards it grades ranging from “fail” to “debatable pass” to “pass”.

And now to another type of bean-counting. Have you ever considered the greenhouse emissions from your favourite dinner? We know meat is worse for the climate than vegetarian options, but a new study shows people consistently underestimate the emissions associated with food production. Adrian Camilleri and his colleagues discovered adding “carbon labels” (similar to existing health ratings) steers people towards more environmentally friendly choices.

Sophie Heizer

Commissioning Editor, Education

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The shockwaves of this cut will be felt for years to come at Australian universities. www.shutterstock.com

MYEFO rips A$130 million per year from research funding despite budget surplus

Margaret Gardner, Monash University

With a budget surplus in sight, it makes no sense to cut funding from Australia's research capacity.


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