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Statement of Ministerial Expectations

In 2015, the then Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, provided the AIMS Council with a Statement of Expectations outlining the Minister’s expectations regarding the quality and focus of AIMS’ research, its contribution to Australian Government priorities and initiatives, and AIMS’ governance and communication responsibilities.

The Chairman of the AIMS Council, the Hon. Penelope Wensley AC, responded with the AIMS Statement of Intent identifying our commitment to the Australian Government’s policy agenda and the strong connections between this policy agenda and our Strategic Plan 2015–25.

These two documents remained current until 13 February 2020, when the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, provided the AIMS Council with a new Statement of Expectations. The AIMS Council responded to the Minister with a Statement of Intent confirming AIMS’ commitment to the Australian Government’s policy agenda and the strong connections between this and the AIMS Strategy 2025. This new Statement of Intent replaces the earlier (2015) version.

AIMS will provide a full-year report against the new Statement of Expectations in its next Annual Report (2020-21). In this Annual Report, AIMS provides a table (below) illustrating how it delivered against the Statement of Expectations that was current until receipt of the Minister’s new advice in February 2020. At the end of this table an additional section shows how AIMS is meeting the 2020 Statement of Expectations.

Table 2: AIMS delivery against Minister's expectations

Minister’s expectation

AIMS delivery against expectation

AIMS to actively engage in the specifications and overall spirit of the Boosting Commercial Returns from Research agenda, ensuring the Commonwealth’s $9.2 billion per year investment in research furthers the interests of the Australian community and maximises our commercial return.

AIMS continues to take an active role in Australian Government science and research policy development and participates in initiatives such as the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

The Government is finalising its first set of Science and Research Priorities developed by the Chief Scientist and considered by the Commonwealth Science Council (CSC), and I expect AIMS to give consideration as to how it can best contribute to these research areas of national priority.

AIMS’ research program is aligned with Australia’s Science and Research Priorities – in particular the soil and water, and environmental changes priorities. During 2019–20, AIMS delivered the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program Concept Feasibility Study and commenced the follow-on Research and Development phase of RRAP – a significant program which is contributing to one of the Government’s most important priorities for AIMS — science for the restoration and (climate) adaptation of the GBR.

Consistent with its legislative functions, AIMS to contribute to the Government’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) agenda to increase Australia’s STEM performance.

AIMS delivers on its commitment to support the growth of STEM capabilities in marine science by co-supervising postgraduate students and providing postdoctoral and early career pathways and employment opportunities. Further, AIMS is a primary sponsor of the ATSIMS program (Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science), which encourages the uptake of marine science by Indigenous high school students.

The Government will respond to the Research Infrastructure Review. AIMS to provide input, through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to this process of policy development including on matters such as depreciation, governance, access management, long-term planning and prioritisation, and sources of funding.

AIMS contributed to the Research Infrastructure Review, the development of the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap, and the National Research Infrastructure Investment Plan 2020 review.

AIMS to continue to deliver world class research and development in relation to marine science and marine technology that underpins the sustainable long-term management of Australian marine environments, including the GBR, as well as associated impartial and accurate advice. In doing so, it should focus its scientific research on areas where it has or can establish a competitive edge in terms of excellence and scale, and encourage the application and adoption of this research, especially where it can drive improvements in Australia’s economic competitiveness.

This is a core function of AIMS. Benchmarking of AIMS’ Citation Impact in June 2020 demonstrated that in the field of marine and freshwater biology - our core area of expertise - AIMS was the top ranked research institution in the world.

AIMS to support the Minister for Industry in her role as Deputy Chair to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth Science Council (CSC).

AIMS provides support to the membership of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) – the successor to the CSC – at all appropriate levels.

AIMS to engage with the Chief Scientist of Australia, including when a member of the National Science, Technology and Research Committee.

AIMS takes appropriate opportunities to engage the Chief Scientist. AIMS CEO has regular meetings and phone conversations with the Chief Scientist.

In advancing the Government’s agenda, AIMS to collaborate with universities, other publicly funded research agencies, and industry to achieve common objectives. In particular, AIMS should not rely entirely on its own resources but should also use national and international collaboration to increase the capacity and responsiveness of the nation’s ability to translate marine science research into outcomes.

A significant proportion of our research involves collaborations with other parties. During 2019–20, more than 85% of AIMS’ projects involved external collaborators, including universities, other publicly funded research agencies and industry partners.

AIMS to work in partnership with business to identify and develop the science to address industry problems and to underpin Australia’s aim of increased competitiveness. The knowledge and ideas of its researchers can substantially improve the productivity of industry and businesses. AIMS and business should therefore work together to continue growth in the knowledge-based sectors. Further, AIMS to engage with those industries where AIMS’ capability can help them to become globally competitive.

AIMS delivered an extensive portfolio of research related to industry, particularly the offshore oil and gas sector in WA. We also provide research-based support to other Australian industries, including ports, tourism and agriculture. During 2019-20 AIMS delivered a significant research activity for the Australian offshore oil and gas industry – the Northwest Shoals to Shore Project. This was co funded by AIMS and industry partners and provided valuable information concerning the impacts of underwater seismic testing on marine organisms.

AIMS should maximise use of its national scientific facilities and collections by Australian and international researchers, including by encouraging industry access to relevant facilities. In encouraging such access, AIMS has a role to play in communicating and educating business on the benefits such infrastructure can provide.

AIMS’ national research infrastructure, the SeaSim, and AIMS’ research vessels continue to be used frequently by industry partners and other researchers, including international researchers, as part of collaborative research projects.

AIMS to raise community awareness of its activities and communicate its research and technical knowledge through the publication of peer reviewed scientific papers and the provision of marine science and technology goods and services.

AIMS delivers its science to the broader community through a variety of communication mechanisms including through the AIMS website and by publishing numerous high-quality scientific papers in peer reviewed journals.

Research publications produced by AIMS that arise from public funding should be openly available at no charge within 12 months of original publication, excepting where contractual arrangements preclude this or are at significant cost, noting that such arrangements are to be minimised. This could be done by making publications accessible via the agency website; by depositing the output to an organisation, institution or discipline electronic archive that provides open access; by publishing in open-access journals; or by ensuring publications are available on a journal or publisher website.

AIMS regularly publishes research papers in open-access journals and also advertises published outputs on the AIMS’ website, noting that copies of research papers can be obtained from the author. In addition, the outputs of research funded by specific government programs are made publicly available on the appropriate (government) website on completion.

Consistent with its legislative functions, AIMS to invest in industry-relevant research training. AIMS to encourage engagement between researchers and business, including by facilitating mobility between AIMS and other research organisations and industry. AIMS to encourage its researchers to be entrepreneurial and support realisation of commercialisation outcomes for industry. AIMS to support risk taking, as part of a resilient strategic approach to solving the big problems facing Australia, within the context of maintaining good governance and learning from failure.

AIMS supports the training of postgraduate scientists in industry-supported fields of research, collaborating with Australian universities for higher degree research training and other national and international research organisations, and partnering with major industry sectors to develop innovative solutions that yield beneficial economic and environmental outcomes. During 2019-20, AIMS supported postgraduate candidates co-supervised by AIMS staff within the AIMS science teams and joined with industry partners to fund jointly several postdoctoral research positions within the Institute.

AIMS to identify and take, where practicable, opportunities to support new companies to commercialise AIMS’ discoveries and expertise.

AIMS monitors and assesses potential commercial development opportunities arising from our research. We have a record of supporting companies in their efforts to realise commercial benefits of AIMS’ discoveries and expertise. AIMS undertakes a range of technology development projects aimed at further leveraging its research investment. During 2019-20, AIMS was successful in submitting a challenge to the Australian Government’s Business Research Innovation Initiative (BRII), which provides funding to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop innovative solutions to challenges in public policy and service delivery. AIMS will collaborate with an SME partner on Counting fish using advanced technologies, with the aim of transitioning AIMS’ current baited remote underwater video station (BRUVS) analysis artificial intelligence (AI) R&D phase into a product for researchers and collaborators to use.

AIMS to keep the Minister and the Department informed, in a timely and accurate way, of significant issues relating to the health and work of the organisation. AIMS to provide input and information to the Department as required ensuring that advice to the Minister’s office and the Government canvasses relevant issues and sensitivities and reflects a portfolio response. AIMS to provide copies of ministerial briefings and correspondence to the relevant areas of the Minister’s office and the Department, in parallel. AIMS to provide prior notice to the Minister’s office and the Department of significant announcements and events that are likely to attract media attention.

AIMS continues to provide a range of timely and informative briefings to Australian Government ministers and departments on relevant marine science issues.

In accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), AIMS to develop an annual corporate plan and to provide that plan to the responsible portfolio minister and the Minister for Finance. In developing the corporate plan, AIMS to consult with the Minister and the Department, and to take into account the priorities and policies of the Government, especially as articulated in the Statement of Expectations.

Consistent with the requirements of the PGPA Act, AIMS released its 2019-20 Corporate Plan update in August 2019.

AIMS to provide Parliamentary Secretary Andrews and her office with the same level of communication, and timely, accurate advice and information, as to the Minister and the Department.

All official AIMS Ministerial briefs are lodged with, and available to, the executive of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.