Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

Primary content

Other as made
This instrument prescribes the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund Program.
Administered by: Industry, Science and Resources
Registered 20 May 2019
Tabling HistoryDate
Tabled HR02-Jul-2019
Tabled Senate02-Jul-2019

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Issued by the authority of the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology

Industry Research and Development Act 1986

Industry Research and Development (Australia-India Strategic Research Fund Program) Instrument 2019

Purpose and Operation

Section 33 of the Industry Research and Development Act 1986 (the IR&D Act) provides a mechanism for the Minister to prescribe programs, by Legislative Instrument, in relation to industry, innovation, science or research, including in relation to the expenditure of Commonwealth money under such programs.

The statutory framework provided by s33 of the IR&D Act enables a level of flexibility to provide authority for Commonwealth spending activities in relation to industry, innovation, science and research programs. This allows the Government to respond quickly and appropriately to the need to implement innovative ideas and pilot programs on an ongoing basis and as opportunities arise. Prescribing programs in legislative instruments provides transparency and parliamentary oversight of Government programs and spending activities, whilst reducing administrative burden on the Commonwealth.

Once a program is prescribed by the Minister under s33, subsection 34(1) allows the Commonwealth to make, vary or administer arrangements in relation to activities under the prescribed program. Arrangements may include contracts, funding agreements or other arrangements, and may provide for money to be payable by the Commonwealth to one or more third parties. The power conferred on the Commonwealth by subsection 34(1) may be exercised on behalf of the Commonwealth by a Minister or an accountable authority of a non-corporate entity, or by their delegate (under s36).

The purpose of the Industry Research and Development (Australia-India Strategic Research Fund Program) Instrument 2019 (the Legislative Instrument) is to prescribe the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund Program (the Program). The Program has been operating since 2006, authorised under item 418.045 titled ‘International Education and Training’ of Schedule 1AA to the Financial Framework (Supplementary Powers) Regulations 1997. Together with co-investment from the Indian Government, it has supported more than 300 joint research projects, workshops, fellowships and other collaborative activities in areas such as agriculture, astronomy, nanotechnology, renewable energy and vaccines. Examples of projects include: improved systems of trauma care and patient rehabilitation; better, safer and more environmentally friendly ways to recycle hazardous electronic waste; protecting grain harvests from insect pests; and advancing efforts to produce a scalable quantum computer.

The Program was extended for a further four years through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science 2018-19 Budget. The current extension of the Program provides $10 million as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to international science collaboration. The Program aims to strengthen collaboration between Australia and India in science, technology and innovation to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes, by funding Australian researchers and organisations from both the public and private sectors to:

a)      participate in research projects, workshops, fellowships, exchanges, missions and other collaborative activities with Indian counterparts; and/or

b)      support the development of strategic alliances between Australian and Indian research organisations, learned academies and other relevant entities; and/or

c)      build links between the Australian and Indian research and business communities to help capture new innovation opportunities.

Funding is available to successful public and private sector research organisations and companies to undertake projects and other activities as outlined above to conduct scientific research and innovation in a range of priority areas as agreed with the Indian Government. The Department negotiates priority areas for each round of project grants with its Indian counterparts, taking into consideration each country’s respective national science and research priorities, industry growth sectors, and relevant topics of current interest.

Funding authorised by this Legislative Instrument comes from Program 1, Outcome 1, as set out in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2018-19, Budget Related Paper No. 1.13A, Industry, Innovation and Science Portfolio (https://www.industry.gov.au/sites/g/files/net3906/f/2018-19-department-of-industry-innovation-and-science-pbs.pdf) at page 31.

The Program will be delivered by the Department’s Business Grants Hub, which is a specialised design, management and delivery body with extensive expertise and capability in delivering similar programs.

The Program is a predominantly competitive, merits based grants program with scope for some ad hoc grants. Three components comprise the Program: collaborative research projects, targeted workshops and fellowships. Collaborative research projects constitute the largest component (80% by total value) and these grants are awarded through annual competitive funding rounds. Targeted workshops are held periodically as agreed between the Department and its Indian counterparts, and these grants are awarded on an ad hoc basis to an appropriate Australian research entity relevant to the workshop topic. The Department may also provide ad hoc grants to the Australian Academy of Science to manage the Program’s fellowships component in coordination with the Indian National Science Academy, as a mechanism to strengthen the two academies’ relationship and encourage researcher mobility between the two countries. The Australian Academy of Science would then disburse individual fellowships to Australian early and mid-career researchers on a competitive basis.

The Program is administered by the Department in accordance with the Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines 2017 (http://www.finance.gov.au/sites/default/files/commonwealth-grants-rules-and-guidelines.pdf). For the competitive component of the Program, eligibility and merit criteria are outlined in the Program’s grant opportunity guidelines, available at https://www.business.gov.au/assistance/australia-india-strategic-research-fund-aisrf.

Competitive component

Spending decisions will be made by the Program Delegate who is the AusIndustry General Manager responsible for administering the Program, taking into account the recommendations of an independent assessment committee, and in consultation with the Indian Government.

The size of grants can vary between funding rounds, depending on current arrangements with the Indian Government. At present, the maximum grant amount for collaborative research projects, the largest component of the Program by value, is $500,000.  In previous rounds, the maximum grant amount in this component has ranged from $200,000 to $1,000,000. There is no minimum grant amount.

Applications will be assessed against the eligibility criteria and merit criteria set out in the Program’s grant opportunity guidelines in two stages. At first instance, applications will be assessed by AusIndustry against the eligibility criteria. An independent assessment committee will then consider eligible applications against the merit criteria. The committee may comprise representatives from the Australian Government, selected state and territory governments, the research sector, business, and other independent technical experts. The independent assessment committee may seek input from independent experts to inform their assessments.

Applications must address the eligibility and merit criteria, and provide relevant supporting information. The amount of detail and supporting evidence should be relative to the project size, complexity and funding amount requested. Larger and more complex projects should include more detailed evidence. To be competitive, applications must score highly against each merit criterion.

After considering the applications, the independent assessment committee will make recommendations to the Program Delegate regarding those applications suitable for funding. As this is a bilateral program, the Department will consult with its Indian Government counterpartswhose own expert panels will conduct assessments of the corresponding applications submitted by Indian research partnersto agree on the projects to be supported. The Program Delegate will make the final decision about which grants to approve, taking into consideration the independent assessment committee’s recommendations, and the availability of grant funds. The Program Delegate will not approve funding if there are insufficient Program funds available across relevant financial years for the Program.

Both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be informed in writing. Unsuccessful applicants have an opportunity to discuss the outcome with the Department, and can submit a new application for the same or similar project in future funding rounds.  Where this occurs, applicants should include new or more information to address the weaknesses identified in their previous application.

Ad hoc components

For the ad hoc components of the Program—targeted workshops and fellowships—grant amounts vary for each activity. Workshop grants are dependent on the scale and location of the event, but typically range from $20,000 to $80,000. Previous targeted workshops have focused on specific research areas as well as broader policy priorities for both Australia and India, such as water management and women in STEMM (science, technology, innovation, mathematics and medicine). The Department may provide ad hoc grants to the Australian Academy of Science, expected to be up to $300,000 per annum, to disburse individual fellowships in annual rounds to Australian early and mid-career researchers on a competitive basis.

The Department will seek a proposal from the prospective recipient of each ad hoc grant and assess it based on details of the proposed activity, how it will benefit Australia-India collaboration in science, technology and/or innovation, and the budget for the grant. The Department will also consult with its Indian Government counterparts as part of the bilateral consideration to support the activity via an ad hoc grant. The Program Delegate, who is the AusIndustry General Manager responsible for administering the Program, will make the final decision to approve each ad hoc grant, taking into account how the activity will advance the Government’s policy priorities and the availability of grant funds.

Merits review and constitutional heads of power

The competitive component of the Program involves the allocation of finite resources between competing applicants and supports the implementation of policy decisions made by government about the delivery of the Program. Ad hoc grants will represent a budgetary decision of a policy nature, affecting Australia’s relations with another country. In addition, there is a robust and extensive assessment process, an enquiry and feedback process, and an existing complaints mechanism for affected applicants. Therefore, external merits review does not apply to decisions about the provision of grants under the Program.

Persons who are otherwise affected by decisions or who have complaints about the Program will also have recourse to the Department. The Department investigates any complaints about the Program in accordance with its complaints policy and procedures. If a person is not satisfied with the way the Department handles the complaint, they may lodge a complaint with the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

The Legislative Instrument specifies that the Program spending is supported by the external affairs power (paragraph 51(xxix) of the Constitution) and the executive power taken together with the express incidental power (section 61 and paragraph 51(xxxix) of the Constitution), including the nationhood aspect.

External affairs power

Paragraph 51(xxix) of the Constitution empowers the Parliament to make laws with respect to ‘external affairs’. The external affairs power supports legislation with respect to matters concerning Australia’s relations with other nations and international persons and legislation with respect to matters or things outside the geographical limits of Australia. This Program provides funding for collaborative research activities between Australia and India, and such funding is only available to Australian applicants with an eligible Indian partner. Furthermore, the Program is part of an ongoing relationship with the Indian government.

Executive power and express incidental power, including the nationhood aspect

The Legislative Instrument also specifies that the Program is supported by the executive power and express incidental power, including the nationhood aspect (section 61 and paragraph 51(xxxix) of the Constitution). The express incidental power in section 51(xxxix) of the Constitution empowers the Parliament to make laws with respect to matters incidental to the execution of any power vested in it by the Constitution. Together with the executive power in section 61 of the Constitution, the express incidental power supports activities that are peculiarly adapted to the government of a nation and cannot be carried out for the benefit of the nation otherwise than by the Commonwealth. The Program funds activities that relate to Australia’s participation in international scientific endeavours and research. Such scientific research is of national benefit and importance, and it is necessary for the Commonwealth to fund this activity in order to facilitate international collaboration between Australia and India.  

Authority

Section 33 of the Industry Research and Development Act 1986 provides authority for the Legislative Instrument.

Consultation

In accordance with section 17 of the Legislation Act 2003, the Attorney-General’s Department has been consulted on this Legislative Instrument.

Regulatory Impact

No additional burden will be imposed on the research and business sectors, which have capacity for the grant application and administration requirements of government funding programs. The Department will continue to monitor application and reporting processes in the Program to ensure costs remain low for grant applicants and recipients. (OBPR: ID 21847)


Details of the Industry Research and Development (Australia-India Strategic Research Fund Program) Instrument 2019

Section 1 – Name of Instrument

This section specifies the name of the Legislative Instrument as the Industry Research and Development (Australia-India Strategic Research Fund Program) Instrument 2019.

Section 2 – Commencement

This section provides that the Legislative Instrument commences on the day after registration on the Federal Register of Legislation. 

Section 3 – Authority

This section specifies the provision of the Industry, Research and Development Act 1986 (the Act) under which the Legislative Instrument is made.

Section 4 – Definitions

This item provides for definitions of terms used in the Legislative Instrument.

Section 5 – Prescribed Program

This section prescribes the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund Program (the Program) for the purposes of s 33 of the Act.

The Program provides grants to Australian researchers and organisations, from both the public and private sectors, aimed at strengthening collaboration between Australia and India in science, technology and innovation to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. It supports activities including joint projects, workshops and fellowships in consultation with the Indian Government, which funds its researchers’ participation in such collaborations. This Legislative Instrument authorises $10 million of grant funding for the Program over four years (2018-19 to 2021-22).

Section 6 – Specified Legislative Power

This section specifies that the legislative powers in respect of which the Legislative Instrument is made is the power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to external affairs (paragraph 51(xxix) of the Constitution) and enterprises and activities that are peculiarly adapted to the government of a nation and cannot otherwise be carried on for the benefit of the nation (section 61 and paragraph 51(xxxix) of the Constitution).


Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

Industry Research and Development (Australia-India Strategic Research Fund Program) Instrument 2019

This Legislative Instrument is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.

Overview of the Legislative Instrument

The Program aims to strengthen collaboration between Australia and India in science, technology and innovation to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes, by funding Australian researchers and organisations from both the public and private sectors to:

a)      participate in research projects, workshops, fellowships, exchanges, missions and other collaborative activities with Indian counterparts; and/or

b)      support the development of strategic alliances between Australian and Indian research organisations, learned academies and other relevant entities; and/or

c)      build links between the Australian and Indian research and business communities to help capture new innovation opportunities.

Human rights implications

This Legislative Instrument does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.

Conclusion

This Legislative Instrument is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

Senator the Hon Karen Andrews MP

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology