Half A Billion Dollars Of R&D Gone?

AUSTRALIA - Australian Beef Association (ABA) has discovered that more than half a billion dollars of Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) research and development (R&D) can’t be found. ABA Chairman, Brad Bellinger said: “This was another example of an appalling waste of producer and taxpayer funds.”
calendar icon 15 March 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

MLA has spent about $600m on an estimated 4000 R & D projects in the past decade, funded by industry levies and matching grants from taxpayers.

“MLA claims it has spent $200 million on 1,050 new projects over the past three years”, Mr Bellinger said.

MLA does not publish a schedule of commissioned or completed projects. When questioned over the R & D expenditure of the MLA, the Managing Director, David Palmer told levy payers to refer to the MLA website R & D data-base.

Mr Bellinger continued, “We took his advice and analysed the MLA R&D data-base and our worst fears were realised.”

“The data base is a mess. It lists only 575 projects of an estimated 4000 allegedly commissioned projects. Even worse, 40 per cent of the listed projects that should have been completed do not have a report,” Mr Bellinger said.

Three hundred or about eight per cent of the 4000 projects have a report of any kind that is available to levy payers, industry participants and researchers.

“About half a billion dollars in R & D outcomes is missing,” Mr Bellinger said, “No one knows if these projects, were commissioned, adequately completed, or even exist.”

DAFF and Peak Councils including Cattle Council are responsible for the oversight of MLA’s expenditure. They once again, have been caught asleep at the wheel.

“This massive rort (financial impropriety) at the MLA is yet another reason why Minister Burke must overhaul this wasteful and corrupted industry structure. As a first step, he must refuse the retention of the $5 Cattle Transaction Levy that funds its existence,” Mr Bellinger said.

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