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The successful passage of legislation to create the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) presents Australia with a once-in-a-generation opportunity for improved health and economic outcomes, according to Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC.
The AUD$20 billion Fund will support research that enables game-changing medical innovations while offering stability and predictability in funding for medical research and innovation into the future.
Professor Crabb said the MRFF would be transformative for not only health and medical researchers, but for the broader Australian community.
“From the time it was announced in May last year, the MRFF has had a long and, to some degree, a chequered journey with controversy initially surrounding how it would be funded,” Professor Crabb said.
“But it was always visionary, nation shaping policy. The best evidence of that is how it passed the Senate today, with bipartisan and Greens support.
“Not only is it a blueprint for a crucial component of the nation’s future, it is owned by the entire parliament.
“They all deserve much credit, especially the coalition for their vision and for sticking with it through tough days, the Greens for their long time support of medical research and for their leadership in recent days, and the ALP for getting behind a government initiative, never easy to do in today’s political world.
“Several cross-bench Senators were also wonderful in their support. Getting something like this across the line is an enormous achievement for the coalition, and for the parliament, I congratulate them all.”
Over the next 5-10 years, the Fund will provide around $1 billion per annum in additional funding for medical research and medical innovation. This approximately doubles the Federal Government’s current allocation to health and medical research.
The first $10 million in additional funding will be distributed in 2015-16, with more than $400 million estimated for distribution over the next four years.
An independent expert advisory board consisting of eight members with expertise across medical research and innovation, health policy, commercialisation and philanthropy will administer the fund.
Legislation requires the Federal Minister for Health to report to Parliament biennially on how research funded by the MRFF meets the strategy and priorities set by the board.
Professor Crabb said his colleagues on the MRFF Action Group, which steadfastly and passionately campaigned for the policy for more than a year, should be especially proud of their efforts.
He paid tribute to the effective advocacy of the group’s founding Chairman and former Burnet Chair, the late Alastair Lucas AO, his successor, Peter Scott and deputies Ian Smith and Matthew Grounds.
“Many people played a role in advocating for the fund, but without these business leaders volunteering enormous amounts of time and energy into the campaign the MRFF, quite simply, would never have seen the light of day,” Professor Crabb said.