Monday, June 09, 2014

A closer look: Science funding

Another day, another announcement from the government of new science funding. They do a lot of these, all designed to create the impression that the government backs science and is increasing funding. But like so much of the government's PR (remember its 2009 "stimulus"?), it is a carefully crafted lie.

How do we know? Because a couple of weeks ago the government released its draft National Statement of Science Investment 2014-24. The hard numbers are on page 18, and they show science funding decreasing over the next decade, from $1410 million this year to $1374 million in 2024. And that's in nominal terms; once you account for inflation, the government's "big plan" for science is to cut its funding by 15 - 20 percent. As for today's "new spending", its money that they had already budgeted years ago, the amount of which seems to have actually been cut since 2011 (compare p 28 of that vs p21 of this year's Budget). But like roads, the same old money can be announced again and again to create the illusion of activity. And with science, that is all National cares about.