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2001 Eureka Prize Media Launch.

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Senator Nick Minchin, Minister for Industry, Science and Resources 2001 Eureka Prizes Media Launch 19th April 2001

I’m pleased to be here today to support these prestigious science awards.

The Federal government is proud to sponsor the ISR Eureka Prize for the Promotion of Science, the ISR Michael Daley Eureka Prize for Science Journalism, and also, the Environment Australia Peter Hunt Eureka Prize for Environmental Journalism.

These prizes are highly coveted by journalists committed to communicating the great messages of science to the broader public.

The government - and the science community - much appreciate what you do.

These awards honour your creativity, your news sense, your integrity, but above all your dedication to your job.

By sponsoring these prizes, the Government is acknowledging your excellence.

The 21st Century will experience exponential growth in scientific discovery and the sum of human knowledge

We will increasingly need a scientifically literate community if this growth in our knowledge base is to be turned into greater individual opportunity

Democratic political discourse on the merits and indeed ethics of scientific discovery will require a community with the knowledge and understanding to consider objectively and rationally the issues we will face

Biotechnology is just one, albeit very prominent, area of science that presents humanity with exciting opportunities, but which is facing growing antagonism from modern-day luddites determined to sabotage rational debate

In my own portfolio the general lack of community understanding and appreciation of the wonders of nuclear science has made the task of building a new research reactor and dealing responsibly with radioactive waste, considerably more difficult

Emotive and populist reporting of those 2 issues by some in the media has not contributed to the communities understanding of the enormous benefits of nuclear science

Science Journalism has a hugely important role in delivering a scientifically literate community capable of rational and informed debate of the great issues we will face as the pace of scientific discovery accelerates

I applaud those of you who are dedicated to providing the community with facts and reasoned argument in your reporting of the world of science

And now to the finalists for the 3 prizes

The Industry, Science and Resources Michael Daley Eureka Prize for Science Journalism is named in memory of the late Michael Daley, the inaugural Executive Director of ABC TV Science.

It is awarded to an Australian journalist or team of journalists who, through a single piece of work, or not more than three related pieces on the same topic, has most effectively communicated scientific, technological and/or engineering issues to the public. 

The finalists for this $10,000 prize are:

Leigh Dayton (reporter), Paul Schneller (Producer) & Chris Spurr (Editor) for

“Unearthing Evil” broadcast on Quantum, ABC TV on 1 June 2000.

This program documents the extraordinary work of acheologist Professor Richard Wright as he applies his scientific skills to investigate alleged war crimes. 

Justine Ferrari for “Secrets of the Womb” published in The Australian, 1-2 July 2000.

This is an investigative report on the complex and ethically contentious research into foetal programming.

Dr Charles Lineweaver & David Salt for “The Origin of the Universe” published in Newton, September-October 2000. This article provides the untrained reader with an engaging and accessable crash course in quantum mechanics and the latest developments in cosmology.

Dr Rachel Nowak for “Life in the Old Dog” published in New Scientist, 22 July 2000.  It’s an entertaining and informative investigation into the question ‘Does male menopause exist’? 

Dr Peter Pockley for “Napalm, Magnesium & Bravado: The deadly ingredients of Australia's first Olympic ceremony finally revealed” published in The Australian, 16th September 2000.

It’s a personal and revealing report on complications for the opening of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games caused by the nature of the flammable material used for the Olympic flame.

And now to the Environment Australia Peter Hunt Eureka Prize for Environmental Journalism.

This prize comemmorates the outstanding work of the late Dr Peter Hunt of the ABC’s Science Unit. The prize is awarded for a particular work, or for overall performance in the field of environmental journalism.

The finalists for this $10,00 prize are:

Simon Benson  for an outstanding body of work on a broad range of environmental issues published in The Daily Telegraph between February 2000 and January 2001.

Michael Brissenden for “Cyanide Spill”, an investigative report exposing the Aural Gold cyanide spill in Eastern Europe.  Broadcast on ABC Radio AM and ABC TV News, 9-11 February 2000 and 16 December 2000.

Dr Peter Fischer for a series of insightful articles on the future of the planet and longer term prospects for the environment.  Published in the Australian Financial Review, February-December 2000

Claire Miller for a series of hard-hitting, consciousness-raising articles on the extent of environmental damage being caused by an unaware and uniformed public.  Published in The Age throughout 2000.

Greg Roberts for “Tree-clearing in Queensland”, a series of features and news stories examining the implications of excessive land clearing in Queensland, and the divide between the federal and Queensland governments on the issue.  Published in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, June-August 2000.

James Woodford for “Landclearing”, investigative and informative reports into the issue of native vegetation clearance, focusing on the laws enacted to conserve native vegetation. 

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 2000

I wish you well at the awards night and to those journalists among you who have been nominated: good luck!

Please join with me in congratulating all the finalists.

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