Outrage Over Political Veto of Grants in Australia

October 29, 2018

University and scholarly groups across Australia are outraged by the revelation that a former education minister secretly vetoed more than 4 million Australian dollars' worth of humanities research grants (about $2.84 million) that had been peer reviewed and recommended for funding by the Australian Research Council, The Australian reported.

Academics were dismayed that the former education minister, Simon Birmingham, overruled the judgments made by scholars during a competitive peer-review process without offering any public announcement or rationale.

The president of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, Joy ​Damousi, said in a statement that political interference of this kind undermines confidence and trust in Australia's internationally respected research-funding system.

Birmingham defended his veto on Twitter: "I'm pretty sure most Australian taxpayers preferred their funding to be used for research other than spending $223,000 on projects like 'Post orientalist arts of the Strait of Gibraltar,'" he wrote.

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