Senate debates

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Amendment Bill 2017; Second Reading

3:47 pm

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I table the explanatory memorandum relating to the bill and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Amendment Bill 2017 will provide Australia' s national nuclear science and research agency, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, or ANSTO, the flexibility required to successfully establish an Innovation Precinct adjacent to its Lucas Heights campus in southern Sydney, and to potentially establish additional precincts in association with its other campuses. More broadly, the bill will facilitate enhanced collaboration between industry, universities, researchers and ANSTO across all its sites.

Driving Australian innovation, and the Australian economy, through greater synergies between science and business is a key Government priority. As such, we want to give Australian industries every opportunity to collaborate, partner and engage with our world-leading research agencies and our universities, and remove any impediments that may limit the flexibility of organisations such as ANSTO in doing so. This is at the heart of the Government' s National Innovation and Science Agenda and the National Science Statement.

Nationally and globally, nuclear science and technology is a major basis for innovation across a range of industries. ANSTO operates much of Australia' s landmark research infrastructure, including the OPAL multipurpose research reactor, the Australian Synchrotron, the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering and the Centre for Accelerator Science. This infrastructure places Australia at the forefront of innovation for the benefit of public health, the environment and industry, and is used by researchers and industry from around Australia and the world.

The proposed ANSTO Innovation Precinct will co-locate and crowd-in scientific partners, knowledge-intensive businesses, high-tech industry and science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine graduates, or STEMM graduates, around Australia' s centre of nuclear capabilities and expertise. The proposed ANSTO Innovation Precinct will have three major components – a Graduate Institute, an Innovation Incubator and a Technology Park. These three core components will enable ANSTO to act as a conduit between research, industry and universities. It will support the achievement of science, innovation and technology excellence, and foster research and industry linkages, technology development, commercialisation, entrepreneurship and STEMM education. These changes to ANSTO' s governing legislation support the vision of the ANSTO Innovation Precinct and enhanced collaboration.

This bill makes minor amendments to the ANSTO Act to provide flexibility around ANSTO' s ability to use its property or facilities for the purposes of an Innovation Precinct or for collaboration. This includes the use of ANSTO' s property to bring together start-ups, high-tech industry and university graduates to create synergies and cross-fertilisation of ideas and knowledge; and the flexibility to use its property to support a graduate institute, for example.

The proposed Technology Park will crowd-in SMEs, high-tech industry and knowledge-intensive business, which will have the benefit of close access to ANSTO' s unique capabilities, nuclear applications and research infrastructure. Businesses that have already approached ANSTO regarding possible co-location include those in high-end medical manufacturing, next generation food production and 3D data capture. The bill also supports the establishment of an Innovation Incubator, which will be the first nuclear science and technology incubator in the world, and will become the home of knowledge exchange, commercialisation, innovation and entrepreneurship at ANSTO.

The Graduate Institute will establish a more formal program of postgraduate training and development in partnership with universities. Through co-location with ANSTO and industry, the Graduate Institute will focus on deepening skills in translational research and the application of nuclear techniques for real-world problem solving. It will also foster cross-disciplinary work amongst the STEMM disciplines. The bill supports ANSTO using its knowledge, resources, property and expertise, for example, for the development of a Graduate Institute as part of an Innovation Precinct; and provides greater flexibility to allow for the potential construction of post-graduate accommodation and facilities, for example, which may not necessarily be undertaken on a commercial basis.

The introduction of the bill also provides an opportunity to update and expand the constitutional limits provision in the ANSTO Act, to support ANSTO' s expanded functions.

Industry groups, universities, state and local government have all been actively engaged in the planning process for the ANSTO Innovation Precinct and are excited about the opportunities it will bring. This includes smart jobs, a boost to the local economy, industry experienced graduates and a drive in Australian innovation. On 14 June, I, like many of my parliamentary colleagues, attended the ANSTO-hosted breakfast event, which showcased the vision for the ANSTO Innovation Precinct and the vital role ANSTO plays in driving innovation and contributing to Australia' s economy.

This bill will enhance ANSTO' s capacity to contribute to the creation of smart jobs and economic growth in Australia. It provides greater flexibility for ANSTO to fulfil its mandate to support and instigate innovation and research that will benefit the Australian community, industry and broader national objectives. As a Parliament, in passing this bill, we are providing ANSTO with every opportunity for the successful establishment of its proposed Innovation Precinct, and for others that may follow.

I commend this bill to the Chamber.

Ordered that further consideration of the second reading of this bill be adjourned to the first sitting day of the next period of sittings, in accordance with standing order 111.