Christopher Pyne flags the government will pull funding for The Conversation in budget

Education minister Christopher Pyne has flagged government funding for academia-meets-journalism website The Conversation will be pulled in next week’s budget.

Speaking on Sky News on Tuesday Pyne said while The Conversation had done a “great job …the contract they signed with the Commonwealth was to be self-sustaining in 3 years”.

“They were given $3.5m, in that time they have expanded to Africa, the United States and the UK and I expect that they are in a position where they will be self-sustaining otherwise they wouldn’t be able to expand overseas in the way that they have,” Pyne said.

The Conversation publishes essays and articles from academics and uses Creative Commons licensing to allow other websites to republish the work. It has an editorial staff of 22 in Australia – mostly editors – as well as 8 commercial and IT staff.

It was given $1.5 million by the Labor Government to launch in 2011, and received an extra $2 million in funding in the 2013 budget.

“Whether that is justifiable use of taxpayers’ money into the future is something that I am considering right now, and obviously I’ve been lobbied by many people and by The Conversation themselves,” Pyne said.

The Conversation’s editor and executive director Andrew Jaspan declined to comment on Pyne’s statements ahead of next Tuesday’s budget.

Pyne’s comments come a day before The Conversation will launch its Africa edition, a move it has partly funded with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The website, founded by former The Age editor Jaspan, has already expanded to include the UK in 2013 and the USA in 2014.

Jack Fisher


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