ADSA Statement on Ministerial Intervention in ARC Processes

Type of post: Association news item
Posted By: Glen McGillivray
Status: Current
Date Posted: Fri, 2 Nov 2018
ADSA, Australia’s peak body for theatre, drama and performance studies scholars, is deeply concerned and outraged over Senator Simon Birmingham’s vetoing of eleven Australian Research Council projects that had passed the rigorous assessment process, and were recommended for funding.

It appears Senator Birmingham based his decisions to reject these projects on a very narrow interpretation of what’s good for Australia. However, Senator Birmingham does not have the expertise to assess the impact of these projects on Australia. Rather, he has speciously judged that the rejected projects focussed on the “wrong priorities” and were “out of step” with what most Australians would deem as important.  

We understand that the projects may not be to Senator Birmingham’s taste, but his role was not to be a taste maker. Common sense is best applied to common problems; complex thinking, as reflected by these projects, is what’s needed for thoughtful and nuanced responses to complex problems.

As an organisation that takes seriously the nurturing of junior academics, ADSA is particular disheartened that two of the rejected projects were for early career research scholarships. To have passed expert peer assessment is a testament to the talent of these two scholars, and their rejection by Senator Birmingham has not only stymied their personal career development, but is counter to the government’s ambition to reward ability and hard work.

Our universities' international reputations stand or fall on the quality of our research performance. In order to maintain the integrity of the Australian Research Council grants processes, ADSA calls on Senator Birmingham to apologise to the affected researchers and for the Minister of Education, Dan Tehan, to immediately reverse the government’s decision and fund these projects.