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The Australian Sociological Association’s Statement on Ministerial Interference in the Australian Research Council (ARC) Grant Process

It has been revealed in Senate Estimates that 11 ARC Discovery Program applications recommended for funding were vetoed by Minister Simon Birmingham, the then Minister for Education, in late 2017 and early 2018.

The Executive of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) joins other associations and peak bodies in condemning this decision. TASA stands with the researchers, including our own members, whose funding was recommended for support by a rigorous ARC peer- and expert-review process, but then vetoed by the Minister at the time without explanation or notification.

ARC schemes are fiercely competitive. The process used to recommend projects for funding is recognised as best practice internationally. It relies on the good will, time and resources of Australia’s and the world’s top academics. Political interference risks this good will and Australia’s international research reputation.

TASA is shocked by the cavalier way in which funding has been refused to 11 ARC applications, despite the obvious personal and career costs for the academics affected. Further, TASA is profoundly concerned that the denial of funding is concentrated in arts, social science and humanities research, areas that make important contributions to national debate, understanding and policy. We offer our solidarity to affected scholars and call for the maintenance of a strong and independent research review system free from political interference.

Dan Woodman
President, The Australian Sociological Association, on behalf of the Executive Committee

TASA Statement on Ministerial Interference in Australian Research Council Grant Process