The Guardian article "Environment department tried to bury research that found huge underspend on Australian threatened species claims" (14 May 2021) wrongly claims the department tried to suppress research on threatened species funding.
Discussions between departmental officials and researchers referred to in the article focused on whether the ‘Spending to Save’ paper should be published as a National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) product or as an academic paper without NESP affiliation.
Under the NESP, research plans are agreed and jointly funded by research institutions and the government. Departmental officials and researchers agreed that the paper should be published as an academic paper without NESP affiliation as it did not fall under the agreed NESP research plan.
We strongly reject any assertion that department officials sought to pressure researchers in relation to the non-publication or authorship of the paper.
The department values academic freedom and research. To date, there have been 178 academic journal articles published by the NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub and NESP science is being used to support decision-makers to better understand, manage and conserve Australia’s environment.