The Turnbull Government's third Budget will invigorate Australia's space industry and was good news for Australia's high-level research and medical researchers, Professor Brian Schmidt, Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University (ANU), said on Wednesday.
The Budget included funding for a new Australian Space Agency, money to upgrade Australia's supercomputing capacity and a major investment in medical and health research.
"The Government's new investment in a Space Agency is a solid down payment in the development of Australia's space story. We look forward to bringing our extensive cross-disciplinary capability to support the agency, its initiatives and activities," Professor Schmidt said.
"ANU is home to key national space resources and has vast capacity and capability to support a new space agency with broad expertise from science through to law and policy.
"Our staff at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics are deeply engaged with industry, government and academia along with other national space agencies around the world.
"Through our national facilities, which include the Advanced Instrumental Technology Centre (AITC) at Mount Stromlo and the Siding Spring Observatory, ANU already plays a leading role in the national space industry."
Professor Schmidt also welcomed the new commitment to upgrade Australia's super computers, including the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), based at ANU.
The government announced $70 million for the NCI late last year, and has followed up with a further $70 million to upgrade the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Western Australia showing the government's commitment to Australia's High Performance Computing capabilities.
"This investment is crucial to our nation and Australia's long-term prosperity. The additional funding will boost research capacity across a vast array of disciplines and underpins our future success in fields like medical research, nanotechnology and astronomy," he said.
Professor Schmidt welcomed the $6 billion investment in Australia's medical and health research sector, which includes a new focus on mental health, genomics, heart disease, diabetes and personalised medicine.
"ANU has significant research expertise in these areas and I commend the Government for its national commitment to support research that will transform the provision of healthcare in our society, achieving significant benefits for all Australians," Professor Schmidt said.
Professor Schmidt also said he was pleased to see the Government commit to 500 newly-funded pathway places into university for regional Australians.
"The only thing that separates one person from another is access to education, and this is a strong commitment to providing greater opportunity for more Australians to access higher education," he said.
"In the 2017-18 Budget the Government announced capped places for undergraduate students which has impacted the number of places available at ANU. I believe every Australian student who wishes to come to university should have that opportunity and admission should only be based on their capacity to succeed."