Thursday 6 September 2007



Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - I would like to offer my gratitude to those who contributed to broadening members' knowledge of Tasmania's present place in the scientific world, and that was at the Science Meets Parliament reception here at Parliament House last week. They included our host, the Minister for Education David Bartlett; the Greens member for Franklin Nick McKim; the Leader of the Liberals Will Hodgman; Dr Vicky Wadley from the Australian Antarctic Division; Dr Trevor McDougall from the CSIRO; Professor Richard Coleman from the University of Tasmania; and our guest speaker was Professor Michael Stoddart, Chief Scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division. There were also teachers in attendance from various schools.

From this presentation and the discussions that followed, it is obvious that Tasmania has a place in the sun when it comes to science. Tasmania is recognised around the world for the expertise we have here in marine, Southern Ocean, climate and Antarctic science. This aspect of our economy goes largely unrecognised. Might I remind members, probably a couple of hundred metres from this place is the largest marine research facility in the Southern Hemisphere - that is, the headquarters of the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research with 350 staff in Hobart and another 200 in other States. It is the cornerstone of the international hub of facilities, including the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre; the Australian Antarctic Division with its many areas of expertise, including the Antarctic Census of Marine Life; the University of Tasmania's zoology and geography departments; the $95 million Integrated Marine Observing System which is based at the university and was launched only in November last year; the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources; the Australian Maritime College; and Australia's national marine facility ship, the Southern Surveyor , which is based in Hobart.

In March this year Hobart hosted 150 European and American ocean satellite scientists and a month ago Australia's first ocean forecasting system using satellite data was unveiled at the Royal Australian Navy headquarters in Sydney, and much of the science for its development was done at the CSIRO. A few weeks ago, Hobart scientists Ken Ridgway and Jeff Dunn had research published in the United States confirming the existence of a massive deep ocean current that passes just south of Tasmania and was considered a missing link in the global ocean conveyor belt that drives global climate, and their research was reported internationally.

Only on Tuesday, Aurora Australis , with a group of international scientists on board, sailed from Hobart for the sea ice around the Antarctic as an Australian contribution to the International Polar Year. By the way, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Mr President, is helping Tasmanians understand what scientific resources we have in a display that I commend to members to visit.

Mr President, I would also like to place on the record a note of congratulations to Dr John Church from the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre and the CSIRO who has just received a Eureka Prize for his contribution to Australian scientific research. Professor Church is the senior science adviser to the World Climate Research Program based in Geneva and he is a specialist in understanding sea-level rise. It is time we also noted that funding for the Antarctic CRC runs out in 2010 and hopefully will be replaced by a different funding mechanism.

Mr President, the institutions and their activities I have mentioned are worth remembering when we consider the science educational opportunities for young Tasmanians, right here in Tasmania. As the minister is fond of saying, 'Tasmania does box above its weight when it comes to science'.

Mr President, I encourage members of this House to promote the interest of Tasmanians and support and foster continued growth of this valuable social, economic and environmental resource