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Good morning, it is a pleasure to be here to celebrate the official opening of the Green Chemical Futures Building - the newest and largest building at Monash University.
I also bring the congratulations of the Minister for Education, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP.
Congratulations to Monash University on completing this innovative and leading project.
The Green Chemicals Future building will significantly enhance Australia’s research capabilities within the chemicals and plastics sector, a critical one to Australia’s economy.
While the Commonwealth supported the project financially and substantially, the majority of funding came from the University, demonstrating its commitment.
I am compelled to note, however, during these times of debates over budgets and the relative value of surpluses and deficits, that the Commonwealth contribution that made the scale of this project possible came from the Higher Education Endowment Fund, set aside from the surpluses of the Howard Government.
Indeed, I would not be doing justice to a proud former student of this university in Peter Costello, by not reminding us all that such Commonwealth, indeed all public support, flows from sound government finances, rather than debts and deficits.
This building meets all the criteria we set for our universities these days: supporting growth in basic research, accommodating targeted industry-driven research and supporting training programmes for industry participants.
I understand Green Chemical Futures already collaborates with nine international partners. It is good to know there are other potential international partners in the wings.
This kind of international collaboration is something the Government is very keen to encourage, which will be very clear in the Draft National Strategy for International Education which Minister Pyne will be releasing for consultation tomorrow.
Monash University is a deeply internationally-focused university. I hope that you and your partners will provide feedback on the Draft National Strategy on International Education, reflecting on your international experience and, I would hope, encouraging further international collaborations such as those that are reflected in Green Chemical Futures.
The Green Chemical Futures facility and its occupants will also be at the forefront of delivering the benefits from scientists engaging with industry and vice versa.
This too is something which the Government is keen to encourage.
That has been reflected in recent months in the Government’s consultation on “Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research”.
Australia does well in quality and quantity of research for a nation of our size; but we do very badly, by relevant international comparisons, in linkage between industry and universities, and in ensuring beneficial economic impact of research.
But this is not a new challenge. I recall working on this issue in the late 1990s and the challenge remains.
Over coming months the Government will engage further with universities and industry to encourage positive linkages and positive impacts from research.
I want to give my serious congratulations to all those who may not be here now but have had involvement in developing this project.
One of the things I have noticed, as I have taken on this portfolio since the election, is that I have opened a lot of plaques with a lot of staff who have quite rightly given great credit to people who might have gone decades before planning such facilities, building up the reputation of the institution and its courses, or indeed just over the last few years the many, many unknown people whose names don’t go on the plaque but those who pull a project like this together.
Our Universities are a truly great national asset. Our Universities provide pathways and social mobility, they provide dreams for them that their parents may have moved to Australia for or that their parents didn’t have themselves.
It is a very important part of social fabric; it is a very important part of our economic fabric.
I once again congratulate Monash University on this project.
It is my great pleasure to declare this Green Chemical Futures building officially open.