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Senator Kim Carr's speeches

Opening of the Advanced Technologies Centre at Swinburne University 

09 Dec 2011

It's always tremendous to be able to celebrate success, and to share with you the pleasure that comes from providing these types of facilities to our best and brightest.

Can I just say to the Chancellor that you have been extraordinarily fortunate in attracting the service of your new Vice Chancellor, Professor Linda Kristjanson, a distinguished scholar in her own right.

It goes to the great strength of this university that you're able to enjoy the leadership of such an outstanding academic and administrator.

Today we launch what is probably the largest single investment that Swinburne has made in its hundred year history.

We, the Commonwealth Government, have put some $10 million towards this Centre through the Education Investment Fund and the Capital Development Pool.

I jointly administer the Education Investment Fund with my colleague Senator Evans.

We've also provided some $40 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Centre, which is being built next door.

Both of these investments are a symbol of the extraordinary vitality and the amazing development of SwinburneUniversity.

They are symbols of what a great modern university looks like.

They're not ivory towers. There's no pretence here, or exclusion. This is about quality research, and it's on permanent display.

That reflects very much the Government's thinking that the modern university has to be responsive to the communities that sustain them.

That's what this building has done. It has put that commitment right in its very core.

This great glass structure provides a window to the world the Swinburne community is trying to build.

This is a world where cancers can be treated.

A world where 3D printing and ultra-fast broadband is going to be developed.

A world of high skill, high wage manufacturing jobs.

We've always said that Australians can have that world - we just have to be prepared to work for it.

That's what you're doing here today. That's why we're here to support you.

It's very much our commitment that we work with the Australian people to develop a new society.

We all know what stresses and strains we are going through in this country. The world is changing very quickly.

We've seen the dollar rise some 69 per cent since the depths of the economic crisis to today.

We've seen what that does to our manufacturing industries. We know that it's turning this country upside down in many ways.

But what I say is don't panic. We don't have to accept what the world dishes out to us.

I take the view that we can make our own luck in this country. We can actually get in there and reshape opportunities.

Our universities are very much at the centre of building this new society. These types of facilities are a testament to that.

And if we are able to use our universities as they should be used, as great public institutions, we can reshape the living conditions for our people.

So we take the view that the more than 100 per cent increase in support we have provided for education is money well spent.

Right across this country we're going to openings of buildings like this one. Whether it be at schools, whether it be at TAFE colleges, or whether it be in universities, it's a reflection of that investment.

In my own area, in terms of science, research and innovation, there's been a 43 per cent increase. This is the highest level of support in these areas that this country has ever seen.

We did that deliberately because we say there is a compact here.

Our job, our obligation as the national government, as a Labor government, is to provide the very best kit this country can to our researchers.

And in return we ask you to help us recreate this country.

We ask you to help us feed the hungry; we ask you to help us cure the sick; we ask you to help us save the planet.

And above all, we ask you to help us create the new industries, the high skill, high wage jobs of the future.

That's why today I'm also able to take that one step further. I am able to announce that we've had a look at our Linkage programs through the Australian Research Council; and we've said we need refinement.

We need to do a better job to be able to allow universities to undertake the functions that I've described today.

So today I am announcing a new global R&D initiative of almost $250 million that will allow us to establish the new Industry Transformation Research Program, within the Linkage program.

This is about bringing managers and workers together with researchers and students, right across the country.

The program will be made up of two parts.

We'll have research hubs to actually focus on the new areas of research in engineering, in material science and nanotechnologies, in communications, and of course in fast areas of new knowledge that are now opening up.

But we'll also have a new set of training centres for our 600 new industrial PhD's.

What we're trying to do is to build lasting partnerships between our universities and our companies, particularly our manufacturing companies, so they can transform themselves for the twenty-first century.

We want them to invest in themselves.

I note just how good Swinburne is in these fields, and I trust you will participate.

And we will be able to complement these measures with the new program of Engineering Cadetships.

Many of you will be aware I am sure of the work that we've been doing in research and development.

The new R&D Tax Incentive has recently passed the Australian parliament, and that's a program that's likely to channel support of $1.8billion per year to business.

So what we wanted to do was provide new cadetships allowing universities to work with local firms on genuinely innovative projects that qualify for that scheme.

Students will have access to the research training funded through the existing Research Training Scheme. Their universities will be able to receive a top-up to enable them to customise their training, to actually meet the industrial needs of companies that are participating.

We expect to be able to attract an additional 250 students each year into these 4 year cadetships.

So these are measures through which centres like this will be able to reach out and build the partnerships that will allow us to build a new Australia.

I trust that all those who pursue that ambition within these buildings are able to succeed. Thank you very much.


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