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22 May 2017 Speech

I would like to begin by also acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land that we're meeting on today, and pay my respect to their Elders past and present.

I'd also like to thank our Minister, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, although he's not here, for that video message, and try not to repeat anything he's said.

And to all of you in the room today – thank you and congratulations. What a momentous and uplifting occasion to be all gathered together.

Thank you to our valued partners: To Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, here today all the way from China, we applaud and welcome your vision in investing in this Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research, or CSHOR (sea-shore), as we've been calling it for short.

Although CSIRO has been collaborating with China for more than 40 years now, we're still waiting for the Aussie innovation of finding shorter nicknames for things to make it across the seas.

And thank you to our Australian university partners from UNSW and UTAS for support and contribution to the Centre.

It's also great timing to have Tony Worby here today, officially in his capacity as CEO of Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, but as we announced last week, we're delighted to have him joining us as our new Director of our Oceans and Atmosphere team in a few months. So welcome Tony.

CSIRO and Strategy 2020

Just over a year ago, we announced the creation of our new Climate Science Centre, a beacon for CSIRO's critical work on the rapid and dramatic changes we're seeing all around the globe.

It was a shift to use our excellent science to deliver solutions to environmental disruption.

ALL branches of science are needed to address these challenges – ALL science is important.

It was a recognition by the Australian scientific community that CSIRO's ice and air libraries, our Argo float program, our Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station, and our Research Vessel, the Investigator, are all critical National Science Infrastructure that must be supported by the community.

It's great to commence a collaboration focused on the southern oceans, and to see such strong support and commitment from China. The world needs science more than ever before.

This is an important turning point in our approach to climate science, recognising that this is a global challenge that requires a global approach. That we need to deepen our networks and strengthen our armoury to not only prepare for what lies ahead, but respond today to what is already a stark reality all around us.

Our Strategy 2020 is responding to our changing world by focusing CSIRO on collaboration, global connection, excellent science and innovation, the delivery of solutions from science – all four of these pillars are at work here.

So I'm absolutely thrilled to be here today to celebrate another major international collaboration with the launch of CSHOR (sea-shore), which will operate within our internationally-focused Climate Science Centre, supporting the vital science and research essential to charting a course forward – together – in the face of rapid climate change.

CSIRO's climate advantage

When I visit primary schools, I hear children who feel far from the action in the rest of the world – so I like to tell them about how scientifically important their location is, both in the world and in the universe.

From Australia you can look directly up into the centre of the galaxy, providing one of the best vantage points on the globe to look deep into our past.

Australia is also at the crossroads of the southern oceans – which carry the data we need to decode to see into our future.

The Southern Ocean is the only part of the globe where waters circle the earth unblocked by land. The unique currents of the southern oceans absorb, store and transport more heat than others – making it critically important as both a planetary memory, and predictor of the future.

With southern hemisphere oceans taking up, storing and transporting more heat and carbon dioxide than others, better knowledge of their role in climate is critical to enable improved projections of climate variability and change and their impacts on Australia and China.

So you see Australia is really on top, and we are the memory of the planet – facts that our Indigenous people have known for 40,000 years.

CSIRO has been performing world-class climate science here in Tasmania for decades – but we can't do this alone.

This comprehensive and collaborative new initiative gives critical new support to CSIRO, and offers real value and differentiation to the global effort to take action against climate change.

So thank you and congratulations again to our partners and our scientists – today marks the first step in another path towards a brighter future for our children and our planet.

We are delighted to bring the full resources of Australia's national science agency, as well as the critical role we play in global climate measurement, to this new collaboration.

I mentioned earlier that we've been drawing on that great Aussie innovation of shortening names, and I quite like the marine connections of abbreviating our new Centre to CSHOR (sea-shore).

It brought to mind a quote from a fellow Physicist, Isaac Newton, who said:

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

I am so pleased to be commencing our own sea-shore journey today, and I look forward to seeing what pebbles and shells we discover, and what truths they reveal.

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