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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1100


Mr IRONS (Swan) (10:16): First I would like to acknowledge the member for Kingston for her recognition of the fourth anniversary of the apology to the forgotten Australians and also the member for Jagajaga, who was heavily involved, along with me and other members in this place, in formulating and putting that ceremony together. It still strikes a strong emotional response from many forgotten Australians and care leavers who were involved on that day. I will have more to say on that, hopefully in the other chamber today.

Contrary to commentary in the press, the Abbott government does have a science minister: my good friend the member for Groom. While the term 'science' may not be present on his abbreviated business card, I can assure scientists of Australia, of which we have many exceptional individuals in the electorate of Swan, that as a cabinet minister the member for Groom takes cutting-edge science into the heart of cabinet discussion and into the heart of government practice.

On Friday I was pleased to be able to represent the science minister at the launch of the Pawsey Centre supercomputing facility at the WA Technology Park in Kensington, in my electorate of Swan—another great technological stride forward for our state. The event was attended by the Premier and science minister for Western Australia, the Hon. Colin Barnett. It was great to be able to receive a tour of the facility before the official opening, which was courtesy of Dr Neil Stringfellow, the Executive Director of iVEC, and also the Hon. Dr Mal Bryce. The Pawsey Centre supercomputing facility is supported by the Australian government, receiving $80 million from the Education Investment Fund as part of the Australian government's Super Science Initiative.

The Pawsey Centre is a remarkable collaborative effort, uniting Western Australia's research leaders with CSIRO through the support of the Australian government. The coalition government has committed to making Western Australia a central hub of supercomputing infrastructure and expertise, recognising that it is uniquely situated to take advantage of the influx of technological and knowledge capital that will flow into the state in coming decades through the SKA project. It is like Star Trek has arrived in Kensington—in the famous words of Buzz Lightyear: 'To infinity … and beyond!'

Science is alive and well in the electorate of Swan. You could say it is a scientific hub. In the electorate of Swan we have two out of the 55 CSIRO sites across Australia. The Kensington site has the iVEC Pawsey Centre supercomputing facility, but it is also home to the National Geosequestration Laboratory and the Centre for Grain Food Innovation. The Kensington site has a focus on developing new technologies for oil and gas exploration and development, geothermal energy, cleaner transport fuels and mineral exploration techniques; a focus on carbon capture and storage; and a focus on researching our oceans. The second CSIRO site in my electorate of Swan is in Waterford. The Waterford site is focused on developing wold-leading hydrometallurgical processing capabilities for alumina and for base and precious metals, as well as on understanding, managing and exploiting ocean ecosystems, fisheries and marine biodiversity.

I commend the practical focus of the CSIRO and would suggest that this approach reflects the approach of the coalition in many respects when it comes to direct action. I have spoken in the past about my personal interest in the geothermal sector and the benefits that brings. The CSIRO sites are both close to Curtin University, a significant area of scientific innovation in the electorate of Swan.

Indeed, iVEC has many links with Curtin University, including seven currently shared projects. Curtin operates an outstanding research-science and research program, and the plans for the future are exciting, with the proposed medical school plan and biotechnology centre having the potential to entrench the area as a hub for health and medical services in Perth. I will continue to work with Professor Hart on this proposal.

To add to this, we have the exciting prospect of Scitech being relocated to Burswood in the near future. This was announced by the Premier prior to the state election and was well received by the community. At the time, Premier Barnett, who pledged to take responsibility for the science portfolio in his second term, said that there was often the incorrect perception that WA, the mining state, was a scientific backwater, when in fact the opposite is the case. The amount of scientific development and technological focus that goes into mining is substantial, with international competition meaning that innovation is required constantly. In fact, WA is at the cutting edge of science and development in Australia and my electorate, of which a large part sits between WA's two most significant universities of WA and Curtin, plays a major role in WA's prosperity.

On Friday, I look forward to again representing the minister at a further event in Perth, and I look forward to playing a role in the development of science in the coalition government.