Research & Innovation Committee Communiqué 19 January 2015

Research & Innovation Committee Communiqué 19 January 2015

Research & Innovation Committee Communiqué – 9 February 2015

Change in Arrangements from PISC to AGSOC

New arrangements were confirmed in 2014 for cooperation between governments on primary industry matters following a decision in December 2013 by the Council of Australian Governments to streamline the ministerial council system. The new Agriculture Senior Officials Committee (AGSOC) is now the principal coordinating body.

Recognising the importance of the RD&E Framework, AGSOC members agreed that the RD&E Committee should continue as one of only two standing Committees, and was renamed the Research & Innovation (R&I) Committee. AGSOC members invited Michael Bullen, NSW DPI Deputy Director General Agriculture, to take on the role of chairing the R&I Committee. The Committee would like to acknowledge the significant contribution made by the previous Chair, Bruce Kefford.

Fundamental Work of the Committee Continues

The R&I Committee is responsible for the oversight of the development and implementation of the National Primary Industries Research Development and Extension Framework (the Framework). The Framework is one of the Priority Issues of National Significance as outlined in the Terms of Reference for the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum (AGMIN). The R&I Committee also provides advice on the overall performance of the primary industries research innovation system and emerging technologies including biotechnology to AGSOG, and works with the Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations (CRRDC).

Strategic Themes

The R&I Committee’s current work plan focuses on the implementation of the 22 national strategies and key issues affecting the system. These issues include:

  • the future of extension provision,
  • performance monitoring and assessment for Australia’s rural innovation system,
  • potential future research models, and
  • how best to assist and promote cross-sectoral research and collaboration under the Framework.

Position statements on each of these topics will be presented to AGSOC once finalised by the Committee.

The most recent meeting was held on 12 November 2014. In addition to covering the above topics, the meeting also saw presentations on Robotics and Precision Agriculture, Decadal Plans for Agricultural Sciences that are being developed by the Academy of Sciences, and RD&E Strategy updates.

Strategy updates

Four Strategy updates were presented at the 12 November meeting:

  • Forestry Strategy - delivered by Paul Wells

The Strategy was developed and endorsed in 2010. Forest and Wood Products Australia is the lead industry representative and funding provider, and NSW is the lead jurisdiction. Following approval of the Strategy, the Forestry Products RD&E Forum was established to assist implementation and consultation. The RD&E priorities were endorsed in 2013. A RD&E providers workshop in March of 2013 conducted an analysis of current activity, resources, and how they match identified priorities. One key outcome was the recognition that the RD&E effort needs a national focus, and the development of an Australian Forest Products Institute could provide a model to progress this. This model is being considered.

  • Grains Strategy - delivered by John Harvey

The Strategy started in 2010, and members meet 5-6 times per year. The Strategy is based on doing national research, regional development, and local extension. Part of the Strategy is to create peaks in expertise in certain disciplines. There are currently five centres, and the expectation is that they will be points of contact to enable interaction with the international community. The second part of the Strategy is national programs where work across Australia is coordinated. The third component is regional centres, where there is need for a regional presence. The sites are chosen for geographic spread and critical mass. The expectation is that each of the national programs will deliver into the regional centres.

The Grains Strategy is currently in the process of confirming “bilateral agreements” with those organisations/jurisdictions that have a “major” role in the Strategy. A critical part of the Strategy is developing the priorities, and having a mechanism for consulting with stakeholders. This is done through Regional Cropping Solution Groups, who meet twice per year and outline priorities in their areas and what the researchable questions are. The Strategy is currently being updated, with more emphasis on performance measures.

  • Climate Change Strategy - delivered by Heather McGilvray

The Strategy was previously hosted by the University of Melbourne, and now sits with RIRDC. The current version is for 2012 - 2017. There is a Partners Agreement regarding the governance for the Strategy, with 22 partners. The Strategy is divided into three research outcomes.

RIRDC hosted its first Partner Forum in 2013. It was designed around the CCRSPI Implementation Plan. The themes that came out of this Forum then informed coordination activities for the following year. The Partner Forum for 2014 looked at adaptation research, including collaborative work. These included work on improved seasonal forecasting, case studies on extreme events, examining the link between climate change and agricultural productivity, and investigating the possibility of a national climate change assessment for Australia. International presenters participated in the Forum via webinar.

In terms of lessons learned, there is definitely good will in relation to cross-sectoral strategies and there is need to be very focused due to time limitations. There is value in information sharing, and there is ongoing concern about climate risks and how primary industries manage those risks.

  • Water Use in Agriculture Strategy - delivered by Guy Roth

The governance involves a Partners Committee, a small coordination group, and working groups. There was a major planning meeting in Adelaide in March, involving 23 organisations. There has been a major culture change from people simply recognising that there is benefit to the collaboration, to now actually wanting to work together.

The Strategy is in the process of being refreshed. The funding pool has galvanised the team to collaborate.

The Committee would like to acknowledge the contribution made by all those involved in developing and implementing the Strategies, and the continued importance of this work.

Communication Strategy

The Committee is seeking to improve how it communicates its work and information on the implementation of the Framework.

The National Primary Industries RD&E Framework website can be accessed at:

The Committee is aware of the need to update the information contained on the website. If there are any changes you would like to see made to the information on this website, please contact the R&I Committee secretariat: