Media Release

New R&D legislation improves services and removes red tape

20 November 2013

Legislation introduced into Parliament today will ensure Australia’s rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) are structured effectively to continue Australia’s success in agriculture that has been built on research and development.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the changes outlined in the Rural Research and Development Legislation Amendment Bills were needed to enhance the existing RDC model to provide better services and ensure that the model works for primary producers into the future.

“In the early days, our industries innovated by necessity. In the late 1800s, Farrer led the revolution to breed varieties for the Australian climate which transformed our wheat industry,” Minister Joyce said.

“By the 1970s our research and development expanded from productivity-focused innovations to include innovations to meet the needs of the consumer – this was epitomised by the development of the Pink Lady apple by John Cripps from Western Australia.

“More recently we have made major innovations in electronics and computerisation, with advances like robotic dairies and satellite technology, keeping farmers at the cutting edge.

“And for the future we are seeing the potential to use drones to manage weeds and pests, we are breeding plants and animals to develop taste attributes that markets require,” Minister Joyce said.

“The RDC partnership of government and industry has stood the test of time but improvements can be made. These bills will make statutory RDCs more efficient and transparent through statutory funding agreements and streamlined board selection processes.

“The statutory RDCs will be able to undertake collective marketing using industry-raised funds. For example, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation will be able to promote Australian prawns, if the industry requests this,” Minister Joyce said.

The legislation will also provide industries with greater freedom to amend their levy and charge rates in response to changing circumstances such as seasonal or market issues.

“In 2013–14, government funding for the RDCs will amount to almost $250 million. The Abbott government has given a commitment to provide an additional $100 million in funding for agricultural research and development.

“This funding boost will enable the RDCs to further contribute to farm profitability and to better deliver cutting edge technology.

“But we also encourage the private sector to invest in rural R&D. Australia’s RDC model of collective investment and public private partnerships is unique and the envy of other agricultural nations. It has helped agricultural productivity increase at twice the rate of other Australian industries over recent decades,” Minister Joyce said.