Address at the reopening of the Shine Dome, Australian Academy of Science

Canberra ACT

CHENNUPATI JAGADISH, PRESIDENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCE: It is now my great pleasure to welcome and invite to the podium the Minister for Industry and Science, the Hononourable Ed Husic. Minister.

ED HUSIC: Good evening, everyone. I just wanted to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet the Ngunnawal people. Thanks, Aunty Violet for that. And also, I always acknowledge as well the electorate of Chifley sits on the lands of the Darug people and I want to also acknowledge them as well, and also to say thanks to First Nations people because our understanding of this country was championed, pioneered, understood by First Nations people, and we learned from them and we should have learned a lot more, to be honest. And I think the good thing about this country is that we're working very hard on that front to do so, but we can do a lot more.

I want to thank the Academy, Australian Academy of Science, for the opportunity, in particular to the President, Professor Chennupati Jagadish, and Vice President Helene Marsh. And can I just also acknowledge the Governor-General His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley and Mrs Hurley. It's a pleasure to be here and thank you for your words to the Governor-General as well and the reflections there. 

To my colleagues the Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who's joining us tonight; the Federal Member for Canberra, the electorate in which we sit, Alicia Payne. I don't know where Alicia is. It's very good to be able to be at an age where when you make a reference to Romper Room everyone gets it. I'm going to be going through all these names. I can see Alicia and I can see David Smith, who's the Member for Bean, and former Senator Kate Lundy, who's in the audience somewhere as well. There you go. I'll get there in the end. Rachel Stephen‑Smith's here. Professor Tom Calma, I saw at the back, and thank you for all your work and service to the nation as well. Thank you very much for that.

And to everyone in the scientific community that is here today and those people online, thank you very much for your attendance. Ian Chubb's here somewhere as well. There he is down the back. And Larry Marshall as well. I'm just remembering. Once you start down this path, don't forget the names.

AUNTY VIOLET: [Indistinct].

ED HUSIC: No, it's all good. We're tag‑teaming. It's all good, Aunty Violet. And I've met a lot of people at the Science Meets Parliament gala dinner earlier.  It's been a bit of a whirlwind since then I was very honoured to be able to join with the Prime Minister on our visit to Indonesia where we are very keen to further push on the issue of science diplomacy, working on common problems together, and Larry Marshall and I were talking about this today and the Chief Scientist as well, Dr Cathy Foley, who I've had the pleasure of meeting a number of times, very keen to pursue that and the Indonesians, our Indonesian friends, are very keen to do that. The Indonesian Industry Minister will be visiting hopefully sometime in the near future, and I'm hoping to lead a group with the Chief Scientist to Indonesia as well. And I'll talk with people about the makeup of that group too, because I think where we can work on common problems together, using our brains and theirs, very important to do and that's been very good.

I met last week with the next generation of our brightest and young scientific minds at Parliament House for the International Maths and Science Olympiad teams, and we had the presentation there as well before they depart to represent Australia on the world stage. And last week – and I'm grateful Governor-General you made reference to Michelle Simmons you know last week for those of you who always look in a perplexed way at that Allen key and the Ikea flat packs, just know what Michelle Simmons and her team did. They have created an integrated quantum processor that is able to simulate materials at the atomic level. Allen key, organising atoms. They did it here in Australia. They brought people from overseas, but also local minds, and they worked together on it in a way that we should be proud.

Governor-General, you made reference to the inspiration that you draw from Australians of all walks of life but particularly in what might happen there, and its ability to unlock, potentially, the discovery of new medicines, that huge processing power that in quantum computing [indistinct] but in just in quantum, medicines or looking at food production, one of the big challenges on the planet – how do we feed people in a climate that's changing before us and be able to solve some of the ways in which we do that is huge, and that was done here in Australia, so we can be rightly proud of that. And that is what we should champion because it seems so often we are told as a country because of our size we should know our place, and the great thing about Australians is they refuse to. They are always curious, pushing, ambitious, wanting to understand. To be able to do that on the world stage and when you look at the size of our country and our achievements relative to that, again, we refuse to know our place, be told what our place is but go forward and be able to achieve and that is what we need to be able to progress.

And being able to be here tonight with the re-opening and after the works of – you know, following the damage and being to celebrate the re-opening and the official commemoration of that with the Shine Dome – and in a very Australian way a Federal Minister says to John Shine, "You're a bloody legend” because you made a big contribution to make this happen. I know you're very modest about it, but we are very grateful for your contribution way back then I asked John, “What are you up to? “I'm just retired and I'm tinkering I'm down at the Garvan Institute.” Who tinkers at the Garvan Institute? But there he is working away and still helping out. And thank you very much for what you have done and what you are doing, and to be able to be here tonight as part of that great group of people in this country who are enriching us in not just material ways, improving our quality of life through the process. And we should ensure that smart, skilled Australians are recognised, and we ensure that we don't have them leave our country because they feel they're not valued, the support's not there. We are very determined to provide that as an incoming Government to ensure that we are a strong scientific power producing the outcomes above the global average for, as I said, people our size, and to do so in transforming our life, our industrial, social and economic lives accordingly.

Before I finish, I look forward very much to working with the academy and all of the agencies. CSIRO we met with today, ANSTO, the National Measurement Institute, Questacon was great. Every time I see Graham, I love Questacon, love you even more, love all your team doing great things. I know your wife's just looking at me right now. But, thank you very much for giving that spark of enthusiasm for young minds as well. Thank you very much for all those agencies doing an important job.

But can I just say for this place having stood here for generations, a former Prime Minister in Menzies helping kick this off, being respected by every – regardless of their politics – subsequent Prime Ministers, here for a specific reason in the nation's capital, close to the seat of government as well, the recognition of the role of science in helping shape good policy. We celebrate not only the re-opening here and the finalisation of the work, but I would like to say that with our government, we want to also rekindle the respect for the role of science in helping develop good policy. And these two events, I would hope, if I may say rather modestly, that our government is determined, and it's why the Prime Minister, can I say, made the decision himself in the naming of this portfolio of "Industry and Science" made a deliberate decision to put science back to the fore in the rightful place in guiding policy for the good of the country.

Thank you for what you do. Thank you for letting me be part of this special occasion and I look forward to working with you all. Thank you.