SIMON BIRMINGHAM: …Australia’s Chief Scientist and the Victorian of the Year, welcome to South Australia, Alan, and thank you for the outstanding work you are doing as our chief scientist and in particular to the members of the research infrastructure working group, the expert working group who are here with you today, thank you to you all for the really important task you are undertaking in terms of contemplating what is required to best equip Australia in terms of the research infrastructure we need to fly and excel as a nation into the future, in terms of the research undertakings that occur and the transformation of those research findings acknowledge into innovation and outcomes that can benefit Australians. I was reminded on my way in here this morning to the Institute of Photonics and Advanced Screening that the mission, the objectives here at the Institute are around making Australia and delivering outcomes that ensure that people are healthier, wealthier and safer. Frankly, there’s probably no neater way to sum up the ambitions of the National Innovation and Science Agenda and, frankly, the priorities of government overall and to see Australians as being healthier, wealthier and safer and, ideally, people around the world as being healthier, wealthier and safer. And though as I’m taken on tours of outstanding research facilities like the one here, I often don’t understand every word that is said to me; what I do appreciate is has been drilled down through those discussions is an understanding of the types of companies, businesses and arms of government who are collaborating with researchers in places like this. That what they are seeking to do is, as Alan said, take money, take investment and convert that into knowledge, and that that knowledge and through innovation and application convert it into outcomes. And increase wealth, increase healthy outcomes and make our communities safer because those types of collaborators sit in our medical sphere, sit in our defence sphere and sit in industry, who create jobs and opportunities for people around Australia.
The NCRIS, the National Collaboration Research Infrastructure Scheme, was born very much out of a type of infrastructure road mapping exercise, the likes of which, Alan and the expert working group are currently undertaking. And we were very pleased in the National Innovation and Science Agenda to commit the Turnbull Government and future governments to providing a decade of certainty in NCRIS funding. I’m very pleased today that through our agility funding we can commit $16 million to a number of different NCRIS projects, including the application of a facility here, which will help to maintain that critical research infrastructure and lift its capability to undertake the next generation of research. But importantly the work of the expert working group is looking beyond just how we maintain infrastructure like NCRIS to well and truly into the next generation and beyond to what is required to ensure that Australian research infrastructure delivers what our researchers need, what industry, governments and other collaborative partners need, and to make sure the ambitions of our innovation agenda are realised. The consultations that are being undertaken by Alan and the expert working group will inform future government policy and will ensure that we look at NCRIS and other research infrastructure around Australia in a holistic way so that we do our best to make sure that it provides the foundation stone upon which our great researchers and universities and other research institutions can achieve their best in the years to come. So thank you very much for the work that you’re doing. I am very pleased that we are able to continue to make additional investments into research infrastructure and I look forward, ultimately, to receiving Alan’s report. I, of course, hope and trust that in looking at all that can be accomplished from it, you are also mindful of the fact that I’ll have to go begging for the funding that may come with it so it is as targeted as it needs to be. But thank you to all of those who will also be engaging with the expert working group today for your input into what is a very important process and will hopefully set up a framework and investment structure that can deliver for the next few decades as NCRIS has over the last period of time. Thanks so much.