Speech to open Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre


Simon Birmingham: Vice-chancellor, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, all – thank you very much for the opportunity to join you here today for the opening of this incredible facility. Lynn, thank you very much for your welcome to country, for your lovely gift. Can I in return to [indistinct] can I extend a ninna marni, which is hello and how are you in the words of the Kaurna people from the Adelaide Plains, where my home is. Can I acknowledge the Noongar people and all of Australia’s Indigenous peoples. And as Education Minister – as I often do – acknowledge that as a nation we continue to learn much more of Indigenous culture, from Indigenous culture, and of course together to build upon Indigenous culture for a richer future.

This centre, this incredible facility, I had the pleasure of seeing in April of last year. It didn’t look much like this at the time though. It was still very much a building site. But what I could absolutely grasp at that stage was the vision. The vision, the intent, the aspiration, to create a world class facility that epitomises in so many ways what it is we hope for in terms of the best of Australian research, the best of Australian higher education and the best of Australian knowledge development and advancement. And the sense I have is that you have done such an incredible job in terms of delivering upon those aspirations, that vision in creating a centre that brings together – in a collaborative spirit – so many stakeholders to work on projects, initiatives, research that is so important to the future of our nation and of course to the world.

This week, the Federal Cabinet has been meeting here in Perth and pretty much all of the Cabinet ministers have been spending some solid time in the west. And one of the important things that Minister Bishop, in particular as a great West Australian Member of Parliament and Australia’s Foreign Minister, is always very keen to make sure we remember is that the west provides a different outlook for Australia. An outlook, of course, to the Indian Ocean in particular, an outlook towards regions who are incredibly important for Australia’s engagement but who from the east coast, aren’t always at the initial forefront of people’s thinking.

And so this, the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre is of course, a wonderful facility not just for the scientific work and breakthroughs that will occur here. Not just for the innovation that will lead to business efficiencies, better marine sciences, better environmental management, all of the types of opportunities that we will see come through. But it is also a symbol very much of the importance of Australia’s public diplomacy of our outlook and our reach to many different parts of the world and particularly to the Indian Ocean countries.

I’m very proud that this centre forms part of one of our NCRIS facilities. IMOS, which of course is an incredible research collaborative exercise bringing together those from different parts of Australia and working in such a way as to share data, share knowledge, share learnings and of course, enhance the types of breakthroughs that are possible.

Buildings are themselves but bricks and mortar. It’s what happens inside them that matters far, far more. Here, and with the industry partners, Woodside and others have come together in working with you, with the other research and government partners, working with UWA, you have much to celebrate, much to be proud of, much that I know will be accomplished here. And it is due to the spirit of those who conceived of this concept, those who have been working here for a long period of time in the different disciplines of marine science and elsewhere who saw the possibility of a tribute to them, to the university administrators who backed this and saw it through, to the different funding partners who have guaranteed its success, and to the architects, the designers, the builders, the others who have brought it all together. But ultimately is, of course, here now for those who will work within it, to train new generations of researchers, new generations of practitioners in a range of disciplines who will go out to industry and elsewhere and will make a phenomenal difference. And of course, what we really look forward to seeing are the breakthroughs that come out of this building thanks to the people who work within it.

Congratulations, it’s my pleasure to declare the facility officially open. Thank you very much.