Researchers welcome curb to politicians’ grant veto powers

Researchers in Australia have welcomed a proposal to limit government ministers’ power to veto the grant-funding decisions of one of the country’s major research funders. Under the rules, a minister would be able to intervene in only rare cases where there are national security concerns, and would need to justify the decision to parliament, writes Dyani Lewis for Nature.

“The proposed changes would create stronger guardrails to prevent future political interference in the awarding of grants,” said Misha Schubert, chief executive of Science and Technology Australia — an organisation representing more than 115,000 science and technology professionals — in a press statement.

The changes were recommended on 20 April as part of an independent review into the legislation underpinning the Australian Research Council (ARC) that began last October. Education Minister Jason Clare appointed Margaret Sheil, vice-chancellor of Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane and former chief executive of the ARC, to lead the review, following an earlier parliamentary inquiry into political interference in research funding.
Full report on the Nature site