Opening Statement from Dr Larry Marshall, Chief Executive, CSIRO, to Senate Estimates

Thank you Chair.

Approaching the end of summer, we at CSIRO have all been moved by the impact of drought, floods and bushfires, because CSIRO’s purpose is to solve Australia’s greatest challenges through innovative science and technology.

To battle drought we have pioneered tillage, crop rotations, soil improvement and sowing techniques to reduce soil water losses and establish crops in dry conditions.  Drought resistant strains of crops and advanced management systems created by CSIRO are drought-proofing grazing properties. We’ve leveraged CSIRO’s unique access to space so that for the first time all Australians can see water flows and drought impacts firsthand through the National Drought Map – transparently and openly as with all our science.

A unique Rural Intelligence Platform created for start-up Digital Agriculture Services is the first software to comprehensively assess and monitor rural land anywhere in Australia. It draws together rich datasets we’ve collected over decades on  soils, yields, weather, water access, and leveraging machine learning and AI to enable the farmer to better plan for their own future.

At the heart of these scientific wonders are the people at the CSIRO, often drawing on discovery science from 39 great Australian universities, but solely focused on turning amazing science into real world solutions for Australia’s greatest challenges. Our mission goes to the heart of what’s most important to all Australians. A more sustainable and safer environment, new industries and new jobs for our children, and the health and wealth of the lucky country.

As the mission directed national science agency, CSIRO is targeting six big National Challenges to turn from challenge into opportunity. Developing a resilient and valuable environment is one of them, the other five are food security and quality; health and wellbeing; sustainable energy and resources; future industries; and a secure Australia and region.

Literally, the air we breathe, the land we grow, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the life we live.

When we all focus on the big things that really matter, Australian science and technology can solve seemingly impossible problems, and create new value for all Australians.

That’s why CSIRO is here.

[ends]

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