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Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 13903

Bass Electorate: Defence Science and Technology

Mr NIKOLIC (Bass) (14:50): My constituency question is to the Minister for Defence Materiel and Science. Over the last 60 years, the Defence Science and Technology Group facility in my electorate of Bass has provided world-leading food science outcomes, including ration packs for our troops. Will the minister advise the House of new innovative opportunities being considered for the Scottsdale facility, including the potential of new microwave-assisted thermal sterilisation technology, which I have been strongly advocating for?

Mr Perrett interjecting

Mr Husic interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton is warned. The member for Chifley has already been warned.

Mr BROUGH (FisherMinister for Defence Materiel and Science and Special Minister of State) (14:51): I thank the member for Bass for his question. As everyone in this House knows, the member for Bass is a decorated former member of the regiment—duty first. Of course, he would have consumed a few ration packs in his time and would know that they are not necessarily the best tasting items. But he also has been, as he says, a very strong advocate for the defence science establishment in his electorate at Scottsdale. Down there he also has a very large agricultural sector. What the member refers to is the potential to have defence science working with commerce and local agricultural producers in leading-edge technology to produce not only a better product for our soldiers as they deploy but also the potential for great new job opportunities down in the northern part of Tasmania.

He asks is this particular technology going to be deployed. Well, I can advise the member that a study was concluded in September of last year, and I am expecting some advice to come to me. If that advice is that the business case warrants it, I would be hoping that we would be able to install a piece of machinery down there that would allow the agricultural sector to work with the defence sector and most particularly the Defence scientist. The role of Defence science in this nation is not well known. In fact, only CSIRO has more PhDs than Defence, and their contribution to science and innovation is critical not only to protecting our Defence forces but for creating the jobs of the future, including in Scottsdale, in the member's electorate.

Whilst at the dispatch box, I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate Dr Mark Patterson, who last night was the recipient of the 2015 Minister's Award for Achievement in Defence Science, and the incredible work that he has done in digger works in ensuring that the men and women of our Defence Force who put their lives on the line in our protection have had the best equipment available. It is the science being applied—the application of science through DSTG and his team—that has made that possible. I congratulate Dr Patterson, and I thank the member for his interest in his electorate and in Defence, security and science.