Cattle Council must make public latest MLA R&D review
Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) members are under pressure from MLA not to release copies of a critical review of MLA’s R&D program. The report has been circulated to CCA members but those who have access to the report are being pressured not to discuss its’ contents or release copies to cattle producers. ABA Chair, John Niven, has called for Cattle Council to make the report public. “MLA has spent $1billion on R&D. The cattle industry and taxpayers, who provide the funds, have every right to see the report”, Mr Niven said. MLA spends about $80 million pa on R&D – about $40 million of cattle and sheep producers’ levy funds that are matched dollar for dollar by the federal government. Since its inception, MLA has spent in the order of $1billion on more than 5,000 R&D projects. MLA has published little or nothing of its R&D outcomes and was unable to produce scientific or financial records for the 2010/11 Productivity Commission Inquiry into the performance of R& D Corporations. In its report the Productivity Commission recommended the government initiate formal audits by the Auditor General of underperforming R&D corporations, such as MLA. And, ultimately, Commonwealth funding should be withdrawn from RDCs that could not comply with science reporting and financial accounting requirements.“Cattle Council is responsible for overseeing MLA’s R&D expenditure, but Cattle Council is also beholden to MLA for funding”, Mr Niven said. “Given its compromised position, CCA has no choice other than to release the report so cattle producers can make a fair judgement”. “If Cattle Council is not prepared to release the report, I call on the Minister for Agriculture to have the report made public.” Mr Niven said.