Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
National Press Club -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) This Program Is Captioned

Live. At the National Press Club

today, Professor Ian Frazer,

the award-winning immune mols

and head of the centre for

immunology and cancer research

at the princess Alex Han dra

hospital in Brisbane. He has

been recently been appointed

chair of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation's medical

research Advisory Council. Ian Frazer with today's National Press Club address. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the National Press

Club and today's National

Australia Bank address. It's a great pleasure to welcome

Professor Ian Frazer today. His

work as you've just heard in

brief in immunology has led to

the development of the human

papilloma virus cervical cancer

vaccines which have made such

an impact in the last few years

and his work has earned him a

swag of prestigious awards, in

2005 the CSIRO Eureka prize for

leadership in science,

Australian of the Year in 2006,

the Howard Florey

the Howard Florey medical

research in 2007 and this year

he was named recipient of an

international award recognising

outstanding achievement. He

teaches immunology at the University of Queensland. We're

glad w the support of

Australian science innovation today to have him here for

today's address. Please join me

in welcoming Professor Ian

Frazer.

Good afternoon. It's a great

opportunity to come to Canberra

and speak with you. I've got a

number of things that I'd like

to say. But the first thing I'd

like to say is thank you very

much for the opportunity to

come and talk. I should point

out that the last time I tried

to come and talk here, things

didn't go quite according to

plan. I was bumped at the last

moment by a politician who shall remain nameless. (LAUGHTER) The only

comment that I would make on

that is that he has gone from

politics and I'm still

here! (LAUGHTER) As well as

directing a medical research

institute, I also have a number

of other roles, particularly in

the charitable field. I'm

currently President of the Australian Cancer Research

Foundation and work with a number of other chart tabl

bodies. It's appropriate that

I'm here in Canberra today as

President of the Australian

Cancer Research Foundation,

because today is the day we

celebrate Australia's biggest

morning tea through the Cancer

Council of Australia, an event

which helps raise awareness of cancer both within community and in Parliament where I was

talking this morning and also

to raise money for the medical

research which will help to

prevent cancer in the future.

Basically what I want to do

today is to talk a little bit

about the importance of

scientific and medical

research. I should point out

that the comments I'm going to make, all though I can in principle represent a whole

range of organisations, are

mine entirely and none of what

I will say now represents the

beliefs or thinking of the

organisations that I might

otherwise have represented. The

real reason I'm in Canberra

today in fact is to take part

in the most important Olympic

event and yet one that's highly

unlikely to hilt the headlines

on the back page as most

sporting events do and where my

sons start their morning

reading. I'm speaking of course about the announcement that

will take place laider today of

the 22 participants from

Australia in the science and

mathematics Olympics. Tens of

thousands of gifted and enthusiastic students entered

into the selection trials for

they vent. In July the 22 selected Australians, the best

of the best, will travel to

Japan, the US, Mexico, Germany,

Bulgaria to compete with students from 100 other

countries. They're here wuss

today. I hope you take this

opportunity to congratulate

them and wish them well in the

events they're going to take part

part in. (APPLAUSE)

These events are a really important way of keeping

Australian talent on the map

worldwide. And in the public

eye. I should therefore also

acknowledge the Australian

science innovations, the

organisation which takes care

of our country into the physic,

chemistry and biology Olympiads

and similarly acknowledge the Australian mathematics trust

which does the same for the mathematics an information

events. They're supported by

the Commonwealth department of

innovation, industry, science

and research, by Monash

University and by Merck Sharpe

and Dome. I also want to think

Mark Toner, who organised the

opportunity for me to speak to

you today. Why is it

participation in these

Olympiads so important for Australia? Being selected for

the Olympiads propels the

students into the public eye,

and gives them opportunities

they would not otherwise have.

Basically, it ensures that they

have a career in science

because it gives them the

recognition that will start

that career off. They will go

on to publish in good journals,

they'll go on to universities

worldwide which are famous for

their intellectual activities. Eventually, experience tells us

most of them will come back

home to Australia. That's the

good news for us. Because

basically, they will have the

talent that will lead us in

science in the future. We want

to keep that talent here in

Australia, of course. Research

is really important for us in Australia. Because it builds

hope and it provides solutions

to problems. Work at the

institute where I work, the Diamantina Institute at

Diamantina Institute at the

University of Queensland, helps

provide the vaccines that will

prevent thousands of young

women dying of cervical cancer

in the future. We're qurntly

working on a vaccine to prevent

skin disease. Think about the skin cancers we face in Australia. Most Australians

will be diagnosed with skin

cancer by the time they're 70.

And the management of skin

cancer consumes a considerable

amount of resources. Therefore

by doing research we can

actually prevent disease and at

the same time not only benefit

the community but save money as

well. Cancer Council figures

show that general practitioners

in Australia have over 1

million patient consultations

per year for skin cancer.

Clearly this ties up a lot of

expertise as well as money and

human effort. By solving

problems locally, we get the benefit first. That's one of

the advantages of doing the

research in Australia. It's

often said we could just wait

until other countries have done

the research. And then get the

benefit here. But if we do

that, we will be the last to

benefit. Furthermore we won't contribute to the Australian

economy by doing that. If we

pull our weight in medical

research we will contribute to

the global economy and we'll

get our share of the benefits.

If we don't we'll simply be on

the receiving end and waiting

for others to deliver for us.

We live in challenging times

and I think it'd be fair to say

there has never been a some

time and never will be a time

when that statement would not

be true. We know of the

problems we face, the known

unknowns, right at the moment,

we're concerned about H1N1 flu,

swine flu in common parlance

although I don't think the pigs

have anything to do with

myself, and we also are faced

with the issues of ghocial

warming, water shortage. Water

shortage was a problem in Queensland but we found a solution for that it's called rain! (LAUGHTER) It just comes you know. Don't even have to do

any research to find that!

Basically we also know there

are a whole lot of things we

don't know about yet, the

unknown unknowns in Donald

Rumsfeld speak. Contrary to popular opinion it's my

experience that the people we

charge with governing us by and

large know about these

problems, too. They also want

solutions. We hope that the

solutions will provide wuss a

healthy and satisfying life,

and basically, that means that

we want to do the research that

will find those solutions.

Everybody wants those solutions

in the American advertising

lingo to be now, free and perfect. Unfortunately, it's

not quite like that. I have to

confirm that in my experience,

the knowledge to solve problems

does not come free of charge

but I do have a bargain to

offer you. Making decisions

based on knowledge comes much

cheaper than making them based

on ignorance. And that's where

science and scientific research

come in. There are really only

two ways of deciding how the

world works. One is to guess;

and then to promulgate your guesswork. That's preaching.

And it's commonly done. But history tells us that by and

large, the guesses will be as

often wrong as right. The other

way to to do is to be the scientists. Scientists still

guess at solution, however,

instead of preaching they then

test whether their guesses are

right. We prefer the word

hypothesis to guess, but

basically a hypothesis is a

guess albeit it an educated one

and it still has to be taken as a guess until the research is

done. But then when we've done

the research, when we've tested

our guess, when we have the

knowledge, we can go out and

preach and we can preach from

knowledge. I have to say that

there's a certain satisfaction

in preaching from knowledge.

Ugly facts tend to get in the

way of elegant but inaccurate

guesses, and today I'd like to

make three points for you

concerning science research.

Specifically what we need to do

to maintain Australia's place

in science on a more global

stage. These propositions are

necessary, I believe, for a

successful Australia in the

21st century. Firstly, I

believe that we must educate

everyone in science to the

highest level they are able to

achieve. We mustn't dumb down

science or underestimate our

kids' capacity in that area. We

need to continue to bring out

the natural scientist in our

children. If you watch children

play, you can see the natural

scientist at work. They test

out the boundaries of what

their parents will let them do

on a regular basis, and learn

from the experience. They play

in the playground to see what

happens. They hit the other

kid, the other kid hits them back, they learn something.

Push something off the table,

it falls on the floor. They

learn something about gravity.

That's the natural scientist at

work. And we're all born that

way. So we just need to

maintain that. We need to

maintain a focus in science

teaching therefore at all

levels towards the acquisition

of knowledge through

experimentation. As a society,

we're knowledge rich and most

of it comes off the Internet

and half of it is wrong. But we

live with that. What we really

need to do is to make use of

experimentation, to teach how

to gather and evaluate new

knowledge. Basically, we are

knowledge rich as a society but

we are research experience

poor. The problem that we need

to face up to is that teaching knowledge relatively speaking

is a matter of spreading facts

around, and you don't need to

think too much about that and

you don't need to spend too

much to do it. Teachers come

expensive but experiments come

much more expensive. I think we

really need to evaluate the quality of knowledge and that

comes from doing

experimentation. Let me give

you an example. I needed to

know the incidence of cervical

cancer in Nepal for a study

we're doing there. I contacted

various databases to find out

how common this is in Nepal.

You get a figure. It's in a

table. It tells you how many patients die of this each year

in Nepal but if you probe a

little further and look to see how that information was

gathered what you actually find

out is that there is no data

about cervical cancer in Nepal.

The data comes from averaging

the known incidence of data in several countries around Nepal

to come up with the figure in

Nepal. If you don't find out

whath method was, if you don't

understand the method, you

would've been misled to a

conclusion that cervical cancer

had a certain incidence in

Nepal and it was known about.

In fact we really don't know.

To get the best out of our kids

in science, as in a lot of

things kids learn at school, I

believe we need to value our

teachers more, particularly the

science teachers , seeing as

how it's science we're talking

about today. One measure of the perceived status of a job worldwide is the ratio of

females to males in the job.

Whether this reflects salary or

whether it reflects the actual

status is kind of irrelevant

for the argument. Teaching in

Australia is becoming a female

dominate ed profession. That's

not necessarily bad. But it the suggest there is is something

wrong with the way we're

rewarding our teachers. We take the education of our children

and the professionals who

undertake this task rather too

much for granted in my opinion.

There is no more important task

than we can do in society than

to make sure our kids are well

educated. And the way that we

must do that is to make sure

that we have quality teachers. Teachers get public

acknowledgement, that's great,

the Prime Minister's prize for

science teaching is an

excellent example of that. But

paying teachers more than the

administrators who look after

their jobs and resourcing our

public schools adequate ly is in my opinion much more

important and would be a much

more telling gesture that we

value our kids' future. The the

second point I want to make is

about the are search process

itself. We should value the

generation of new knowledge and

the people who do it more than

we currently are doing.

Australia in 50 years will

either be a holiday resort and

a rather dry and hot one or the

centre of a knowledge-based

economy. Our choice. If we

facilitate generation of knowledge through the provision of education, infrastructure and then the people, then the

rest of the world will benefit.

The need to invest in people

and infrastructure for

knowledge generation is still

true in times of recession,

indeed, it would be extraordinarily dangerous if we

took the recession as an excuse

not to continue to invest in

research. If we don't, then in

20 years' time, we will be

still trying to play catch-up.

It takes that long to rebuild

something that you've lost in

science. To confirm that

hypothesis, just look at the

consequences for science of the

cultural revolution in China

in the 25 years of lack of

progress that was made

following three years of not following three years of not

training scientists any more.

It takes a long time to train

our solution-finders. The

critical part is early

childhood but it goes on after

that. So we need to encourage

participation early and keep up

the pressure for people to go

through the system after that.

The converse of that, however,

is that work force planning is

absolutely critical. We can't

let market forces prevail in

the science research arena, because you want the smartest because you want the smartest

people. We want the smartest

people. And smart people are

smart enough to realise that if

the environment is not right in

research, they'd be better off

doing something else. If things

look bad in science in the

times of recession, a

generation of scientists will

not stay in science. They'll

move to safer employment. We

enjoy our career as scientists.

We're told it's our hobby but

hobbies don't pay the mortgage

and they don't educate the kids and people really and people really have to be

encouraged to stay in science.

The challenge is to make sure

that the system is sustainable.

I believe that we have to bite

the bull leapt and say that the

public system can support the

careers of X number of

scientists, whatever X the

community decides should be and

then set the appropriate

structures in place to make

sure that we nurture enough

talented people to fill those X

places, not less and not places, not less and not more.

Currently the pool size is

driven from below by the

universities. The universities

derive income from putting

students through the system,

the more students that go

through the system, the more

income they derive. That's fine

from the university's point of

view, but for the careers of

the scientists who go through

the system, the PhD student who

is will not make it in science,

it's a disaster. And clearly a

waste of resources and their time. So

time. So we really need to have

a gated selection process for

entry into the system and break

away from a university system

which rewarded only for the

numbers that go through the system, basically turning

universities into car factories

or sausage machines. I think

it's important that that's

sorted out. It has been done

elsewhere. We have been able to devise systems whereby you can gate the process at gate the process at the

appropriate stage in the career

and get the right number of scientists. Switzerland has

done it in the past. We can do

it too. Valuing scientists for

valuing paying scientists somewhat more might be desirable as well but perhaps not as necessary as I believe

it's better to pay our primary

and secondary teachers more.

However, it's as well to

remember that we compete on a

world stage in science. Science is

is a very portable phenomenon.

Scientists can work anywhere.

And do. And they will obviously

go where the resources are

best. Where they will have the

best chance of being productive

in research. So we have to make

sure that the equation which

comprises first of all what you

get paid, secondly what the

environment's like for doing

your science and thirdly

whether it's a nice place to

live, whether all of these together make Australia

competitive on the world stage. We want to We want to make sure that the

balance is right, that roughly as many scientists leave

Australia to go elsewhere as

are attracted here to come and

work. Because that ebb and flow

of science is really important

to make sure that we say

competitive. I was really

delighted to see the

substantial investment the

current government has made in

infrastructure for science in

the recent Budget. Obviously we

are all pleased about that.

However, I do hope that that will in due course be will in due course be matched

by similar investments in the running costs for the research

that is done in those

facilities. This has been a

long-standing issue. The promises recording indirect costs in the Budget are fine

but they're far in the future

and we really need the

solutions now. Currently research institutes and

universities are forced to rob

Peter the undergraduate

teaching programs to pay Paul,

the actual research work that's

being done, or perhaps in this case they're case they're robbing Ian

because it's my research

infrastructure money I need as

well. That's why they called it

the University of Ian in that

advert that they

had. (LAUGHTER) The third

point I would like to make for

you today is that we need to

encourage each member of

society to see that their

personal application of what

we've learned from research can

make their life better if they

follow the guidelines that the research lays

research lays down. I'm

obviously interested in health

and in cancer prevention, and

when it comes to cancer

prevention, we actually know

what the answers are, that we

can present 30% of cancer with

right now if we keep out of the

sun, if we don't smoke, if we avoid overeating and

notwithstanding the alcohol on

the table here, if you don't

drink too much, then you can significantly reduce your significantly reduce your cancer risk. And many of the

things that apply for cancer

apply for other diseases,

obesity is of course a very

common promoter of Type 2

diabetes. Of course we all know

what we should be doing. It's

not as if we're not aware of

the knowledge but we're not

very good at applying it, with

perhaps the exception of sumo

wrestlers there are not people

who go out of their way to be deliberately overweight yet

many of us are. We're a bit

like the cafeteria fed rat,

genetically programmed to eat

because it's interesting to do

so and we become overweight.

The people who are programmed

for overweight will be the

survivors in the time of famine

but I don't see famine coming

in Australia , and it's not

much of a challenge for the

Western World although clearly

it's been a great survival it's been a great survival

trait in the past. The

challenge is to come up with

acceptable strategies to modify

behaviour. We know what we

ought to be doing but we just

have to work out how to

encourage people to do it. This

requires experimentation. This

is as much a scientific project as actually doing the science

to find out that these things

are bad for us. Therefore we

need to do research. The

take-home message if you like

once again is to support

research over guesswork. Don't try to guess, try to guess, try to find out

what will actually work.

Changing the age of alcohol

consumption in relation to the

age that people started driving

in States in the United States

sounded like a tremendously

good idea but actually instead

of decreasing the accident

rate, it increased it. It was a

good guess, but it was wrong.

You actually have to do the

research to find out. And

basically, we should be trying

to achieve this without using

the big stick which can be used by government which by government which is

basically to threaten us with

increased health care costs or

increased taxation to help

solve a problem. As a final

thought, I'd just like to make

a plea that Australia should

lead the way in something which

I feel very passionate about

myself, and that is to develop

strategies to ensure equitable

access across the globe to the benefits of the research that

are undertaken and the

knowledge that that produces.

knowledge that that produces. Michael Gorbachev pointed out

when he visited Australia a

couple of years ago that future

wars will be fought over food

and clean water. I'm shurg

that's correct but I'd go

further and say they'll also be

fought over equitable access to

appropriate social benefits,

including equitable access to

the benefits of research in

health care. Free trading of knowledge will probably make

this possible, but we actually

have to take pro-active steps to make sure it

to make sure it will occur. I

believe that the equalisation

of opportunities for growth and

development across the planet through equitable access to

education and health may be a

rather utopian vision at the

moment. But in 1984 has come

and gone and we need to dream

big in the second decade of the

21st century if we wish to

avoid the mistakes of the past

in that area. My personal

approach to this is to undertake partnerships with undertake partnerships with

colleagues in the various parts

of the world where medical

research is not actually

undertaken but where the

benefits are most needed such

as Vanuatu and Nepal where

we're trying to prevent cervical cancer. While this

work takes me away from the

exciting coalface of the basic

laboratory research and the mouse doctoring which many

scientists are accused of

doing, it does actually give me the the personal benefit of seeing

the enthusiastic uptake of

simple and sustainable

approaches to improving health

in countries where these are

desperately needed. Cervical

cancer is an infectious disease

that no-one should have to die

of in the 21st century. We know

what it's caused by. It's

entirely preventable. And yet

it still kills more than a

quarter of a million women worldwide, mostly in the

countries in the developing

world. We have the technology to sort that

to sort that out, we can

prevent infection through

vaccination, we can screen to

find the early stages of the

disease. But we're not doing it

in the countries where it's

most needed. If we take the

responsibility on of doing the

research to find out what the

solutions are to the problems,

we must also take on the

responsibility of making sure those solutions are delivered

in the countries where they're

most needed. We've many challenging challenging infections to

conquer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C

and now of course H1N1 flu.

These will all require research

to produce answers. If we do

that research we must accept

the personal responsibility of

getting solutions to the rest

of the world as soon as we've

developed them ourselves. On that note I will thank you for

your attention and thank you

for being here and listening today. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you very much,

Professor. Our first question

today in our period of media

questions comes from Simon Grose. You touched in your

speech on the process of

scientific discovery. I'd just

like to give you an opportunity

to reflect a bit more to reflect a bit more widely in

that - on that. As you would be

aware the climate change debate

is dominated in the scientific

area by a large orthodox view,

and a small proportion of

scientists, some perhaps a bit

dodgy but many people with

integrity who argue

differently. And you are doing

research at the moment working

on a vaccine

on a vaccine for skin cancers,

targeting a couple of strains

that of the human pop loam ma

virus. I wrote an article about

this in January and I quoted

you thus "There are people in

the sign tichk community who

believe that virtually no skin

cancers are caused by papilloma

viruses and that there are

others who believe that

virtually all skin cancers are

caused by papilloma viruses." So you have working and you have funding to work have funding to work into an

area where there is a lot of

debate and perhaps dissension

from time to time on that

particular issue. So I wondered

if you'd take the opportunity

to talk about the nature of

truth, the scientific

discovery, and where the two meet. (LAUGHTER) Simon, thank

you for that question! You

would like the solution to

life, the yumps and

life, the yumps and everything! (LAUGHTER) I think

that the issue you raise is a

very important one. First of

all, research by its nature

tends to be done in areas where

there is controversy. If there

is no controversy there

probably are no negative

hypotheses to place against the

hypothesis you wish to test,

and therefore it's very hard and therefore it's very hard to

imagine the scientific process

working. That's one of the practical problems of course

with climate change and what it

might be due to. We don't have

a control group, a parallel

earth that we can experiment

with to see what might happen

if we did things differently so

we have to make observations

there. That's where science is

at its most dangerous, trying

to draw causality out of simple

observations. In the area of

skin cancer, the research skin cancer, the research can

be done. Again, a little

difficult to find the

volunteers to do the

experiments the hard way,

infect them with the papilloma

virus and see if they get more

skin cancer is not a very

popular and certainly not an

ethically acceptable way of

doing research. But at least in

principle we can go through the

process of testing the hypothesis that it's necessary

and/or sufficient to get these

viruses. We know it's not sufficient bus sunlight sufficient bus sunlight clearly

plays a part in skin cancer but

it may be necessary to get

these viruses in order to get

the cancers. That's something

that can be tested. Sometimes

you have to do science the hard

way and say look all we can do

is hypothesise, but then we do

risk assessment and that's

where the community has to play

a part as well. We can lay down

what we believe the odds are and the community and the community then has to

decide whether they'll act on them. I personally wouldn't

like to think that Australia

will be the hot, dry place some

people predict in 50 years'

time, and so I would like to

see us taking the view that

things are a bit risky not to

do something about climate

change due perhaps to excess

use of carbon-based fuels. It's

something we can solve, and if

we're right and we really need

to do it we will be grateful

for it. If we didn't need to for it. If we didn't need to do

it we'll not be any worse off.

Maybe there will be some economic reconsiderations over

the course of the first little

while we do it but eventually

carbon fuels will run out

anyway. We'll have to do

something about that at some

time. Why not now? I think the

short answer to your question

is that we're driven by

controversy in science. Where we can do things

experimentally, we should. And

then use those results to try

to model the way we work in to model the way we work in

society. Where we can't, we're

just going to have to live with

the fact that the questions

can't be easily answered and

try to at least understand the

processes which might or might

not give rise to the outcomes we're worried about and then

see if we can test at least the

processes and see if they're

right. I don't think the answer

to climate change will come

entirely through research but

I'm sure that research will

contribute to us making the

decisions about what we should

be doing about it.

be doing about it. Professor

Frazer, some people would say

that keeping brilliant young

minds some of whom are here in

research science is not just a

question of rewarding them

financially but providing some

job security. The days of

tenured positions in

universities are long gone. And

in the distant days when I was

in research science, many

people left it for the bureaucracy or

bureaucracy or the dark side in

private enterprise, not because

they weren't particularly well

paid but they don't know where

the next post doc fellowship

was coming from and they

couldn't get a bank loan

because they didn't have a

career path. How much do you

think career path is as

important as financial reward?

I agree 100% with you, career

path is critical. The important

responsibility that we have is to

to set up a system whereby we

actually ensure that there is a

career path for scientists.

Apart from anything else, you

lose the best of the talent if

the career paths are not good,

because the best of the talent

can work in other areas. And

maybe that's why I'm left in

science, you see. I wasn't part

of the best of the talent. But

I think that the solution to

that has to be a gating

process. We cannot continue to push people through the system push people through the system

at the bottom end of the

science hierarchy more than we

can sustain through the rest of

the hierarchy. We have to

decide as I say in the

community how many scientists

we wish to have. That's a tough decision. There isn't a right

answer for that. The scientists

will tell you more, and that

would be right. I mean, you

can't have too much knowledge,

at least I don't think you can.

But we obviously can sustain a certain

certain amount. The economy can support a certain amount of

scientific research. Research

pays for itself, at least

medical research does, $3 back

into the economy for every $1

that's put in. But there must

be a law of diminishing

returns eventually. There is a

decision to be made. And then

once that decision is made,

then you structure the career

path so that the right number path so that the right number

of scientists plus or minus a

few or around and then that

will get away from the problem

that the kids can't be fed and the mortgage can't be paid.

Because I agree, it's really

hopeless as a scientist to be

in the situation where you're

more worried about whether you

can feed the kids and pay the

mortgage than about the science

you're doing. I mean, this

three-year cycle of let's apply

for a grant , see if I have a

job next year or not, is job next year or not, is disastrous because you're far

too worried about that and not

nearly enough worried about the

science you should be doing.

Also you can't take on a

20-year project if you have a

three-year life span. Good

afternoon. If I can ask you a question about swine flu. You

touched on it briefly before.

As a man of science, do you

think that both the public

reaction and the reaction of

health authorities to the threat

threat of swine flu is

justified by the extent of the

threat when we compare the

response to seasonal flu in

past years? Thank you for that

question. I like the curly

ones! (LAUGHTER) If I were the politician I would say that's a

nice question but what I will

really answer is something

different. (LAUGHTER) I

think that we have to learn

from the past. That's what

scientists do. That's what distinguishes us, I guess, is distinguishes us, I guess, is

that we can observe and learn

from our observations. And in

the past, there have been nasty

epidemics of flu. I think that

this particular one,

fortunately so far, has not

turned out to be as nasty as it

could've been but that doesn't

mean it won't become that way.

And therefore, there are two requirements for that. One is

that we do everything we can to

learn about the current flu, so

we have the knowledge, because that knowledge will lead that knowledge will lead to the vaccine that will help prevent

the flu in the future, it will

take six months to develop a

vaccine, so the WHO say and

that's likely right but if the

flu does turn nasty in eight months' time then we'll have a

vaccine so we need to dot

research. The second thing is

naturally we do want to contain

the spread of the current flu

because we don't know whether

it will turn nasty or not. This is at the moment no different

from any other flu. It's this from any other flu. It's this

year's seasonal flu, if you

like. And maybe we should treat

it this way. The big challenge

that we're faced with, however,

is whether we go ahead and

develop the vaccines for last

year's seasonal flu which is

what we'd normally do or

whether we put all our effort into developing one for this

current one, bearing in mind

that last year's one will still

be around this year and will still circulate and will

continue to kill people in

hundreds of thousands each year

as it has done in the past. This

This flu so far has killed fortunately only a very small

number of people and doesn't

seem to be any more virulent

than the average flu and I

think we have to treat it this

way but we have to be vigilant

because it is a new flu and

because it has the potential to

mutate into a nasty one, we

certainly want to do everything

we can to be prepared for that

eventuality if it occurs. Good

afternoon. I have

afternoon. I have a question

for you about the process

behind research, a little bit

of what you touched on in your

speech. Recently in a National

Press Club address, Kim Carr,

our innovation minister, talked

about the government's from in

really wanting kind of

results-based research, and results-driven research. I want

to know what you think of this push

push for results-based

research, compared with

research for the sake of

knowledge? Thank you. Let me

answer that in two different

ways. The first is to say that

the papilloma virus vaccine did

not result from research which

was designed to produce the

papilloma virus vaccine. It

came about as a result of

research done to understand better how

better how the papilloma virus

worked as a virus. We knew at

that time it was a nasty virus

but we didn't know much about

how it worked. The worked that

Harold Sirhausen had done

showed this virus was one which

could cause cancer but because

it was a virus that couldn't be

grown in the lab, we had very

little knowledge about how it worked. So

worked. So we set out as did

many others to try to if you

like build the papilloma virus

from scratch so we could do the experimentation that would let

us understand first of all how

this virus caused cancer and

secondly how it was that the

body's defences against

infection might be able to deal

with the virus under normal

circumstances. Along the way

and entirely by chance, we came

up with tan observation that if

you expressed one bit of the virus in

virus in tissue culture using

recognintDNA technology,

genetic engineering if you

like, you ended up with something that looked like the virus that was entirely

unexpected. If you like we made

the building blocks of the

virus and it was like having a

Lego kit and taking it and

throwing it it into the corner

and it turned into the Empire

State Building overnight,

because the things assembled themselves without themselves without us having to

do anything. So that if we had

been driven by the desire to

produce outcome-based research and written a grant application, let's make a

papilloma virus vaccine, we'd

have never got the money,

they'd have said the hypothesis

is weak, we had no preliminary

data and the chances of success

are pretty minimal, so we

wouldn't have got there anyway.

And secondly, it all came out

of basic observations. Without that basic science and of that basic science and of course the basic science on which our science was built,

we'd have never got there. So

it's really important that we

continue to fund the basic

science. Having shade that,

obviously you have to do some

applied research. That's what

the community expect of us.

They want to get the benefits

of the research that is done.

The art is in the balance. And

deciding how much effort should

go into the one and how much

into the other. If it were nice into the other. If it were nice

and logical, if we could

predict which bits of research

would give us the answers to

the problems, it'd be much

easier. It's not. Unfortunately

we just have to do the science,

and you never know when a

particular bit of basic science

will turn out to be really

useful to solve someone else's

problem somewhere else.

Everybody puts a bit in into

the jigsaw puzzle and

eventually the puzzle assembles

itself but you never know which

will be the key bit which will enable the solution to enable the solution to come

out.. It's really important

that we support basic science

across all the disciplines in

science all the time to ensure

that we can get the knowledge

that will allow us to get the

outcomes we're seeking. I agree

entirely with Senator Carr, we need outcomes. Outcomes are

useful for the whole community,

they are why we do science to

some extent. It's very nice to

know how the world works but it's equally important to get the benefit of that knowledge.

I think it's hard for the radio

I think it's hard for the radio astronomers. They have a

challenge ... (LAUGHTER) But

even they one day will solve somebody's problem somewhere

and the technology along the

way ... (LAUGHTER) Is very

useful. So I don't think we

should ever underright any area

of science. You mentioned that

medical research returns three

dollars or every dollar. I suggest to you suggest to you that that's the

sort of infrastructure stimulus

that might interest the

government at this point. (LAUGHTER) How much -

and you will have noticed as

everyone has there's a lot of

money being spent on stimulus.

How much has gone to science?

Has it gone in the right

places? Is there enough being

put - are you being stimulated

enough? (LAUGHTER) This is a pretty stimulating set of

questions that you're asking me

right now, so I guess the right now, so I guess the

stimulation factor is high.

Fortunately I don't have to run

the Budget, let alone the

country. I would hate to have

to do that. We are facing really challenging economic

times. And I guess that

investing in infrastructure, as

it was put to us shovel-ready

infrastructure, is actually a

good idea. Because it creates jobs and stimulus and growth.

But as I've said, once we've

got our infrastructure for

science, we need to continue to science, we need to continue to

invest in the work that will be

done there, and to make sure

that the infrastructure is

adequately supported. The $3

for every dollar still requires

a dollar put in order to get

the $3 out. You have to be in

the game for the long haul. So

I think that it's important

that the government follow up

the action that they've taken in providing the infrastructure

which will help to put us in a

competitive place in the global

scheme of things. Also, with the infrastructure the infrastructure support

money, which will allow us to

do the research and provide the

more jobs and all the spin-off

that comes from that down the

track. It's difficult as I say

to put an exact figure on how

much we should spend and

governments sit there and

ponder on that I suspect and

look at the figures and I

gather that we're now looking

at 10 to 20 years of debt, I'm

sure that's not a popular

statement but that seems to be

the consensus opinion at moment

but the debt is but the debt is at some level

artificial. We're supposed to

be in tough economic times but

I don't see kids starving in

the streets in Australia. We're

playing games with the economy

to try to make sure that we all

have employment, which is the

important thing, keep the

employment rate high. And I

think we can do that best by

providing infrastructure for

science, and also then by

providing the work to do the

science because the science

leads to technology and the

technology leads to

technology leads to jobs. I

want to ask you a question

about Ian Frazer. You've

embarked on a long journey in science but an interesting

personal journey over the last

four to five years, from

eminent scientist to beavering

away in the laboratory to

public celebrity. I'm wondering, for those young

people who are about to - that you've alluded to previously who are about who are about to embark on

their journey in science, in

life, if they do find

themselves in this very unusual

position at some stage in their

career where they've moved from

that, if you like, beavering

away anonymously in the

laboratory to standing in front

of the bright lights and live

on television as you are now,

what are the lessons you've

learned? What advice would you

give them? Yes, that's an

interesting question. I'm not sure I have learned sure I have learned the lessons

myself yet. I may not be the

best educator in that regard.

My wife Caroline is here today.

She will tell you the one thing

I haven't learned is time

management which is always a

challenge for all of us I

guess. Look, the first lesson

that I think I would give to

the people who are aspiring to

be good scientists in the future is to is because you

enjoy it. The public limelight

may or may not come, but doing

science because you enjoy it will help you to will help you to make sure that

you do it well. And it will

also give you the personal

satisfaction that you get out

of doing the science. You will

put pit s into the jigsaw

puzzle as I was referring to

earlier. If you're lucky or unlucky depending on your point

of view you may put that

critical bit into the jigsaw

puzzle that brings knew the

public limelight. If that does

happen, all scientists have a

responsibility to advocate responsibility to advocate for

science in the community and to

get out there and to the best

of their ability explain why

they're doing what they're

doing with the public money and

why in the long run it may be

of benefit. Because I think

that's one of the hard messages

we have to sell in order to

make sure the community are

interested in supporting us. We

depend on the taxpayers to

encourage the government to put

the dollars in to continue you

to allow us to do the science

that we enjoy doing but is also that we enjoy doing but is also

useful. Make sure you are a

good Public Advocate for the

science you're interested in.

You can never learn that lesson

too early in science. Talk

about it to your grandmother.

If you cannot explain to your

grandmother what you're doing,

then you've got to learn how

to. Because if she doesn't

understand the general public

won't. The people you write the

grants and papers for probably won't understand either. You

will always be more knowledgeable than them about

what you're doing. Second thing I would say I would say is get some media

training. I never got that I

learned by the school of hard

knocks. I was bailed up outside

the Walter and Eliza Hall

Institute many years ago after

having been doing rather

controversial in the field of

HIV/AIDS as we now know it, but

in those days it had a much

more prurent name, and I was

becamed up outside the becamed up outside the Hall

Institute by four television

cameras, one from each of the channels, totally unprepared

for this to happen, and two

things I learned from that.

First of all, you gotta think

on your feet pretty quickly

when you're talking with the

media. Secondly, never let yourself get into a situation

where you will be slice and diced with somebody else. One

of the journalists was there

for specifically that purpose.

I was then presented I think on equivalent of

equivalent of the REPORTER:, I

can't remember exactly which

one it was, I better not yit size any particular television

channel ... They're all

here. They can all take the

blame collectively. But the

general was idea was they put

me against some guy who

believed this was a disease

caused by too much sexual

activity. It made both of us

look like idiot, I freely admit

that. I had not learned how to avoid

avoid that happening. So get

some media training. It's not

that hard to do. And you never

know when you will need it,

that's the point. So you might

as well get it early and enjoy

it while you have the chance.

Then the third thing is, it's

just part of the job. Get out

there and enjoy it. The last

three years have been a bit of

a roller-coaster ride for me. I

still try to do my research.

Maybe if I gave that away it'd be easier to cope be easier to cope with everything else but actually

it's the research that drives

me. So I think that the lessons

you have to learn in that are

be true to yourself, do what

you think is important. Me

probably as a slightly past its

use-by date scientists, I'm

better promoting science in the

media, but you never know when

it's going to happen. If you

find yourself torn between the

science and getting out science and getting out there

into the limelight, it's

sometimes to stick with what

you really en join - the

science. I'm one of the

directors of the National Press

Club. One of the by no means

unique but distinctive features

of Australian society is the

creation of heroes particularly in the

in the fields of sport. Not

related solely to sport,

because we do the same in business and commerce

sometimes, but few or not

enough perhaps heroes in

science, research, innovation,

the occasional spectacular

island of a Nobel Prize, but

not as frequent an occurrence

as might be desirable. You went part-way to the answer in your response to Laurie response to Laurie Wilson's

question just now but I wonder

if you would like to go further. What more should

science do, what more could

science do or indeed what more

could government do to raise

more and present more serious

heroes in science that can be

identified with by Australian

society? Thank you for that

question. It's an interesting

one. It implies that in some

way we would do science better

if we

if we had more heroes. I

suppose we'd encourage more

people into science if we had

more heroes. That's probably

the most important reason for

doing it. So we want to set up

role models that people aspire

to be like. Everybody need as

role model in life in order to

do whatever they want to do

well. I certainly had role models that I aspired to be

like in my career. They weren't always heroes. They were people

who I thought were doing their job well and whom I would like job well and whom I would like

to be like. Some of them as it

turned out other heroes. Gus

nosle would be an obvious

example of someone who was both

a good scientist and a

pre-eminent figure in the

community. I wouldn't ever

aspire to be Gus. He was very

different from the rest of us

and has talents I could never

emulate. But certainly some

part of what Gus is like is part of what Gus is like is

what I would like to be like

myself as well. We need to

acknowledge scientists more at

the community level, and local

heroes. When there was the

Australian of the Year when I became Australian of the Year

in 2006 there 'd been a good

track record of scientists

being made Australian year of

the year prior to that, Fiona wood, Gus

wood, Gus Nossle and Peter

Doherty had all taken on that

role. But you don't see

scientists as the local hero

which is also part of the

Australian of the Year thing,

picking out a scientist who

locally should be promoted.

It's at that local personal contact level you motivate

people. Talking in the schools

to would-be scientists, the

Year 10 kids them respond to

that local contact. So we need more people out there at more people out there at that

level. Maybe we just need to do

a bit more rewarding of science

in the public eye. The media

can take a large part in that

of course. They can promote

science in the community in a

responsible way which allows

people to be seen as doing a

good job. The trouble is that -

and again, forgive me for

commenting on how the media works because you do your job very well and you promote science very well, but if you

look at the stories that come out there, at the one level out there, at the one level

there's the hero-type thing,

when I became Australian of the

Year I guess I was put on that

pedestal but then there are all

these science stories which

attack science in some way or another, investigative

journalist looking for faults. That's only natural. It's the responsibility of the media to

probe but if you challenge the whole of the science infrastructure in doing that,

if you bring down science in

the eyes of the community, and the eyes of the community, and

if you like put us in an ivory

tower to be attacked, then it

certainly doesn't encourage

people into science and it set

ups the wrong model I think for getting the acknowledgement

that science should have in the community. So it's important

that yes if there is a problem,

please by all means attack, let

us know we're not doing it

right in whatever way you think

is appropriate, but if there

isn't a problem, please try not to create one,

to create one, just in order to

sell the journal or newspaper

you're trying to sell. And the

papilloma virus vaccine has had

more than its fair share of

critique in the public eye.

Some of which has been perhaps

not unreasonable, more relating

to the way that the vaccine's

been distributed and the

information given out and all

the rest of it but some of it

has been simply because it looks

looks like they can

sensationalise something, a

number of individuals who have

what's been unfairly called

hysterical conversion syndrome,

an abnormal response to vaccination. These people

haven't sensationalised as

having had a severe reaction to

the vaccine. In some senses

they have of course, but it

isn't a physical problem that's

been due to the vaccine, it's

rather to the idea rather to the idea of

vaccination. And by publicising

those stories a lot of young

women have been put off getting

vaccinateed to help prevent a

disease which they have a

reasonable chance of getting if

and they get a reasonable

chance of dying of. I think

that the balance is in your hands rather than in

mine. Could I take yo