Govt Moves on Medical Research Future Fund
28 May 2015 at 10:55 am
The Federal Government has introduced legislation to create the controversial $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund – described by Treasurer Joe Hockey as the biggest endowment fund of its kind in the world.
“The Medical Research Future Fund is a landmark Coalition Government initiative. This is a game-changer for Australia and for Australians,” Hockey said.
The Medical Research Future Fund was announced by the Federal Government in its first Budget in 2014-15. Funding was to be raised by the controversial GP co-payment which the Government eventually scrapped after a public backlash.
“Subject to the passage of the legislation, the Medical Research Future Fund will be established from 1 August 2015,” Hockey said.
Hockey said the Fund will receive an initial contribution of $1 billion from the uncommitted balance of the Health and Hospitals Fund.
“In addition, the estimated value of savings from the Health portfolio will be contributed until the Fund reaches a target capital level of $20 billion, projected to be in 2019-20,” he said.
“The first $10 million in additional medical research funding is to be distributed in 2015-16 and over $400 million is estimated for distribution over the next four years.
“The Fund will be invested and managed by the Future Fund Board of Guardians, which has a proven track record in managing investment portfolios on behalf of the Government and maximising returns over the long term.”
He said the Government will separately establish an expert advisory board to provide advice on the medical research strategy and priorities to inform how annual distributions from the Medical Research Future Fund are to be spent.
“While the Medical Research Future Fund is a must, regardless of the funding model implemented, Australians need to be aware that it will take almost a decade before the fund injects approximately $1 billion each year into local health and medical research,” Elizabeth Foley, CEO of Research Australia said earlier this year.
“And even then, the fund will only provide enough funding for 40 per cent of quality research projects currently put forward each year to the National Medical Health and Research Council.
“That being the case, philanthropic funds will continue to play a key role in supplementing current government and commercial investment in health and medical research,” Foley said.
The Government’s recent May Budget progressed the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) with $400 million over the forward estimates.
“Making the MRFF a reality at the scope and pace proposed will guarantee that we can build on our strong track record in discovery and invention and secure Australia’s position as a leading research nation into the future,” Chair of Research Australia,Professor Christine Bennett AO said.
“Australia currently lags behind on Government spending on health and medical research when compared globally. We invest just 0.075 per cent of our GDP on health and medical research, which is only 64 per cent of the OECD average.
“However, a $20 billion MRFF will see Australia’s investment in health and medical research reach internationally comparable levels and ensure we remain competitive as a global leader in this space.
“The health and medical discoveries and inventions that the MRFF will make possible should improve the prevention and treatment of disease, as well as improve the quality and efficiency of the healthcare system. The MRFF brings with it hope for a healthier future.”