New independent board to end the days of political interference in the Australian Research Council

The Albanese Government is today announcing the appointment of the new, independent Australian Research Council (ARC) Board.

The Board will be led by Professor Peter Shergold AC and Professor Susan Dodds FAHA who have been appointed as Chair and Deputy Chair respectively.

The Board will be supported by two key advisory committees to provide guidance and advice about ARC priorities and strategies: the ARC Advisory Committee and a new ARC Indigenous Forum.

Today’s announcement delivers on recommendations by the independent Review of the Australian Research Council Act 2001, led by Professor Margaret Sheil AO.

The new ARC Board, instead of the Minister, will be responsible for the approval of most research grants within the National Competitive Grants Program.

The Minister will be responsible for approving the funding guidelines, which will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.

This means any future Minister who tries to politicise the ARC will be subject to the scrutiny of the Parliament.

The Minister retains the power to approve nationally significant investments that foster research capability for Australia, such as the ARC Centres of Excellence, Industrial Transformation Research Hubs, and Industrial Transformation Training Centres.

The Minister also has the power to direct the Board not to approve a grant, or to terminate funding to research grants, based on national security concerns and will be required to notify Parliament of these decisions.

The members of the ARC Board include:

  • Professor Peter Shergold AC (Chair)
  • Professor Susan Dodds FAHA (Deputy Chair)
  • Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter
  • Professor Cindy Shannon AM
  • Professor Paul Wellings CBE
  • Emeritus Professor Margaret Harding
  • Mr Mark Stickells AM
  • Ms Sally-Ann Williams FTSE

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education Jason Clare:

“Over the last decade, the ARC has been bedevilled by political interference and Ministerial delays.

“That has made it harder for universities to recruit and retain staff, and it has damaged our international reputation.

“That’s not good for our universities. It’s not good for businesses either who work with our universities. 

“I promised to end the days of Ministers using the ARC as a political plaything and today, with the appointment of the new independent Board, that’s what we’re doing.”

About the new ARC Board Chair, Professor Peter Shergold AC

Professor Shergold AC has unparalleled leadership and expertise, having served as a Secretary in the Australian Public Service for two decades, including for the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Education, Science and Training and, more recently, as Chancellor of Western Sydney University. 

About the new ARC Board Deputy Chair, Professor Susan Dodds FAHA

Professor Dodds has significant expertise and experience in the research sector. She was most recently Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, Research & Industry Engagement at La Trobe University, and served as a panel member of the independent Review of the ARC and the outgoing ARC Advisory Committee.