Australian Consulate-General

20120214 Speech Science Diplomacy Tour

Consul General’s speech upon the occasion of Professor Veena Sahajwalla’s Science Diplomacy Seminar in Guangzhou on 14 February.

Honoured guests,
Ladies and gentleman,

I am delighted to be here with you all today. It is a pleasure to host today’s seminar with the NSW State Office and our friends at the Guangzhou Association for Science and Technology.

I particularly want to thank Secretary General Mr Feng Yuan and NSW Chief Representative Cher Jones for their hard work, which has been central to the success of today’s seminar.

As you know, Professor Veena Sahajwalla has been doing a whirlwind international seminar series, sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

When I heard this would include China, I was keen for her to include Guangdong on her itinerary.

Because the story of China’s successful rise is not complete without a weighty chapter on Guangdong.

Because Guangdong was the crucible for China’s reform and opening up.

Because what happens in here in Guangdong, matters. To China, to Australia and internationally.

And because now, there is a new, fresh wind blowing in the province.

Guangdong is currently in transition - making great steps towards transforming its economy, and rapidly moving up the value chain.

The leaders here in this room are at the forefront of this transition.

Your commitment to building your world class enterprises and industries, is testament to the Guangdong-spirit of innovation, reform and modernisation.

This transition too, is driven in part by the Guangdong government’s investment in research and development and a commitment to building a sustainable economy.

Australia, too, is committed to growing a broad-based and sustainable economy. Like you, we walk the road of reform and we share with you an interest for sustainable growth.

Innovation is at the core of the Australian Government's efforts. That is the spirit that has kept our economy strong through generations of sweeping change.

Every day, over a billion people across the world will rely heavily on Australian inventions. Every time they drive a car, fly, prepare a meal, use a laptop or smartphone or spend some time in hospital there is a good chance they are relying on Australian research. This includes:

  • 11 Nobel Prize recipients, including the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics, awarded to Australian National University scientist Brian Schmidt.
  • The technology behind WiFi, which was invented in 1996 by Australian scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Canberra.
  • The world's first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer – which has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives and was developed at the University of Queensland during the 1990s.
  • Relenza - The world's first anti-flu drug which was developed at several institutions in Victoria and released onto the market in 1996.
  • And of course Professor Veena Sahajwalla’s significant contributions to the field of Waste Plastics in Steelmaking.

Australia welcomes Guangdong’s ambitious strategy for industrial upgrade, and we support practical steps to bring researchers and industry together to meet the challenges of the future.

Cooperation on research and science is a key component of the broader Australia-China relationship.

In 1980 China was one of the first countries to sign a science and technology treaty with Australia.

China is now our third biggest scientific publications partner after the United States and the United Kingdom.

In August last year, science ministers Senator Kim Car and his Excellency Dr Wan Gang signed a memorandum of understanding for the Australia-China Science and Research Fund.

The Fund was announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Premier Wen Jiabao, during Prime Ministers successful visit to China in April last year.

There is support at the highest political levels for collaboration in science and research between our two countries.

Scientific collaboration between Australia and China has already generated advances in medical research, disaster management, food security, wireless communications and new alloys for manufacturing. We can look back with pride in what we have achieved in partnership.

We look forward together to a strong future in Australia-Guangdong, and Australia-China cooperation in both technologies and investment.

Thank you.