CANBERRA: The Australian government has announced the signing of a treaty-level Science, Research, and Innovation Cooperation Agreement with the New Zealand government. As part of the agreement, Australia and New Zealand will work together to tackle chronic disease, advance general health care, and improve the accuracy and availability of GPS signals, said recently appointed Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Arthur Sinodinos. “This is the first treaty of its kind between our countries. It formalises what has been a naturally close and enduring partnership,” Sinodinos said. “More importantly, it recognises the immense economic and social potential that merging our efforts and resources can bring to the region.”
The minister said the signing of the agreement in Queenstown on Friday with New Zealand Minister for Economic Development, Transport and Communications Simon Bridges concludes a year of intense negotiations and that it recognises the strength of the relationship between both countries, as well as the advantages of sharing resources, assets, and knowledge. Pointing to Australia’s Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, Sinodinos said it is a prime example of working together. The SKA has been slated to be the largest and most capable radio telescope ever constructed, and has been called the world’s largest science project, covering over 1 million square metres of collecting area. Sinodinos said the government is also trailing the Satellite Base Augmentation System in both countries. The New Zealand government, alongside the New Zealand research sector, allocated a total of AU$4.5 million to support the Australian Synchrotron in February last year. The AU$1.5 million to be donated every year for three years sees the total investment into the Synchrotron from Australia’s trans-Tasman neighbours reach AU$13.5 million since it began operations in 2007.
The Australian government also signed a research agreement with China last year, announcing the creation of six new Joint Research Centres. At a cost of AU$5.95 million, the six virtual centres will be funded for three years under the Australia-China Science and Research Fund, which supports strategic science, technology, and innovation collaboration considered of mutual benefit to both countries. It will work to address challenges both countries face in the marine science, food and agribusiness, and mining equipment technology and services sectors. The federal government also chose China to host one of its five startup landing pads, with former Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne saying previously that Shanghai was being positioned by the Chinese government as a global centre for technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The AU$11 million startup landing pad initiative is aimed at helping Australian entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market in overseas locations, with sites also set up in Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, Berlin, and Singapore.