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Monday, 29 October 2012
Page: 12355

Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (11:21): As my colleague the member for Bruce said a few moments ago, this government has a very credible track record in supporting science and research investment in Australia. The member for Bruce quite properly referred to a media release of 22 October, just over a week ago, from Senator Chris Evans which pointed out that funding to universities has increased by 50 per cent compared to the last four years of the Howard government. In four years, from 2012 to 2015, the government will invest a further $58.9 billion in university funding. I think the statistics tell the real story. Those statistics are indisputable.

Speaking to this motion, moved by the member for Melbourne, I too share the view that science is central to our economy and our prosperity. As a participant of the Science Meets Parliament program each year, and as a frequent attendee of scientific briefings by the CSIRO and other similar scientific institutions here in Australia, I well understand the importance of research and how it is, indeed, a wise investment into our future. Having mentioned the Science Meets Parliament program, I take the opportunity to thank and commend four young scientists—namely, Stephanie Kermode, Sondos El Safar, Lyndsey Vivian and Declan Clausen—for taking the time to meet with me earlier this year and explain to me the scientific work each of them are engaged in. What particularly impressed me was the passion and commitment each of them had for their fields of science.

The motion also refers to medical research. I also take this opportunity to speak about the new South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute complex being constructed adjacent to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. On 3 August 2012, I represented the federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, in joining South Australian Premier Jay Wetherill and South Australian health minister John Hill for the tree-topping ceremony, marking a significant point in the construction of the building which will be the new home to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute. Having been given a full briefing and tour of the partially constructed building, it is clear that this will be a state-of-the-art medical research centre that will engage in world-leading research, with the capacity to employ up to 600 researchers. That facility is only possible because of $200 million of federal government funding. That facility will be, I believe, a leading facility throughout the world for research. In speaking to some of the researchers that are going to be working within the building, I know of their excitement and their appreciation of the federal government support for that new facility.

Another similar research facility—again funded by this government to the tune of $40 million—is the new Materials and Minerals Science Building at the University of South Australia in my electorate at Mawson Lakes. The new facility, which Minister Chris Evans opened on 6 August, sets new benchmarks for collaborative learning, research, innovation, sustainability and excellence, and it will complement the globally recognised work of the Wark Research Institute and the Mawson Institute.

Those are two very clear examples of direct funding by this government into research facilities that will be of huge benefit to Australians into the future. Again, they are facilities that would not have been possible were it not for the commitment of this government to research and science.

The third area I want to very briefly touch on is the investment made by this government in many of the science facilities in secondary schools. I can talk about, within my own electorate of Makin, the new science facilities at Para Hills High School, Scoresby East High School, Banksia Park High School, Valley View Secondary School and the Golden Grove joint campus facility shared by Golden Grove High School, Gleeson College and Pedare Christian College. I have been to all of those facilities and I note all of them have multimillion-dollar additions to their schools which will enable science based learning for their students, which is an investment in the future scientific research that will be undertaken here in Australia. In fact, only last week I was at Valley View Secondary School's new electronic technology facility opening where I saw for myself how that school is working very closely, as many of the other schools are, with both the industry sector and the universities in terms of developing science based careers in this country. The member for Bruce outlined some of the contributions made by the government to research but I am aware that more broadly, when it comes to health and medical research, the government is, in fact, maintaining all-time-high levels of funding to the National Health and Medical Research Council in the 2012-13 budget and that the budget commits $771 million to the NHMRC for health and medical research. (Time expired)