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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12005

Research and Development: NICTA


Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:57): My question is to the Prime Minister. Last year the now Prime Minister took the German Chancellor to NICTA, Australia's flagship IT research agency, in my electorate of Sydney. Why has the Prime Minister cut funding for NICTA? Isn't it the case that the Prime Minister is all talk and no action?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:57): I thank the honourable member for her question. I did join the then Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, at NICTA. It was the single research centre that she was most keen to see in Australia.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr TURNBULL: It was a very, very good example of collaborative research, applied research and cooperation between primary research and industry. It has now become part of the CSIRO—I don't need to tell the honourable member what the initials mean, as my colleague has done that—and it is part of the Digital Futures facility or unit within the CSIRO.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Chifley is warned.

Mr TURNBULL: The CSIRO has a new CEO, Larry Marshall, who, as a very committed and experienced entrepreneurial scientist who has done very well in venture capital, understands the importance of this type of collaboration. It has a new chairman, David Thodey, the former CEO of Telstra, who has been a formidable agent for change within his own corporation. He has taken that big organisation, formerly the PMG, and inspired it to be much more innovative. So there are sea changes at the CSIRO. While I understand very keenly indeed the disappointment that was felt by many at NICTA at NICTA's funding having been reduced and NICTA being moved into the CSIRO, I think people from both the old NICTA and the CSIRO are now seeing that this is a really powerful and inspired combination. What it is doing is taking a small unit, NICTA, which had a very imperfect governance, and incorporating it into Australia's industrial research-applied research powerhouse, the CSIRO. A combination of NICTA and CSIRO is going to supercharge that type of applied research, obviously in the ICT area, in a way that we have not seen before.

I have great confidence in this work within the CSIRO, great confidence in Larry Marshall, the CEO, and great confidence in David Thodey and that whole team at CSIRO. This is going to be a much more dynamic organisation as a result of the merger with NICTA.