House debates

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Questions without Notice


2:42 pm

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Can the minister outline to the House how the Morrison government is supporting and recognising the outstanding work of Australian scientists?

2:43 pm

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question. Last night, we celebrated some amazing Australian scientists and their achievements, with the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science. This really is science's night of nights. We would normally be gathering in the Great Hall; representatives from across this chamber would be there, recognising and supporting the great achievements of scientists right across this country. Because of COVID, we clearly could not hold the event here at Parliament House last night, but it was held virtually, and that does give the opportunity to those members who were unable to see it live last night to go and watch it—because there are some amazing scientists and their achievements that are being showcased online. It really demonstrated to us how we have turned to the science community during this particularly difficult time, as we look for a way out of the situation in which we find ourselves with COVID-19.

The winners of this year's top prize for science were Emeritus Professor David Blair, Professor David McClelland, Professor Susan Scott and Professor Peter Veitch. Professor Veitch is actually from the member for Sturt's electorate. Their achievements have been absolutely amazing. That team has been instrumental in the world-first detection of gravitational waves. Effectively, these four humble Australians helped prove Einstein's prediction of the existence of gravitational waves about 100 years after he first predicted them. It means that we are now able, through their discovery, to look back to almost the beginning of time and explore parts of the universe in a way that we had only hoped could ever be possible.

There were also amazing achievements through our innovators and our teachers. I would actually like to make special mention of the winners of last night's teaching awards. They were Sarah Fletcher and Darren Hamley. Our science teachers do amazing work. They are inspiring the next generation of students to study science, technology, engineering and maths. Tomorrow is World Teachers' Day. As the mother of a daughter who is currently doing year 12 and will finish next month, I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing teachers. As a parent, I am really grateful for the work that they have done to support my children and to support every child here in Australia. To the wider Australian science community I say: thank you for the work that you have done.