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23 March 2018 Speech

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

Thank you all for being here today to see our CSIRO fleet of Saildrones before they head off on their maiden voyages next week and ride a new wave of innovation for Australia.

I'm delighted to be joined today by our US partner and CEO of Saildrone, Richard Jenkins, who has his own connections to Australia. Our CSIRO US office team has built an important bond with Richard embodied in a partnership to enhance his Saildrones with more CSIRO science and technology, here other side of the Pacific.

These three Saildrones are driven and funded by partnership with Australian industry, supporting CSIRO's strategy to monitor, mitigate and adapt to climate change. Industry partnerships are critical to innovation for our nation, and collaboration is at the heart of our mission as Australia's national science agency.

Our Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research, or CSHOR, here in Hobart is another example of a strong collaboration, as is our RV Investigator, Australia's National Marine Research Vessel.

Both are critical national research infrastructure, created and managed by CSIRO, but supported by collaboration that recognises global environmental challenges require a global response. As we respond to dramatic changes in our environment, we're working not just with governments, industry and research, but with start-ups like Saildrone as well to share the responsibility.

So we're pleased to welcome these Saildrones to our flotilla of environmental research infrastructure. They may be small in stature when compared to the Investigator, but their ability to gather rich streams of data autonomously, for up to twelve months at a time in hard to reach locations, will deliver unique information, previously not accessible to our scientists, making them incredibly valuable.

Two of the Saildrones will gather data in the Gippsland Basin, the other will head out into the Southern Ocean, all sending back new data to develop state-of-the-art marine measurement and modelling frameworks for our partners in industry and government.

Their next voyages could contribute to other major global challenges; moonshots like saving the Great Barrier Reef or predicting the next El Nino more than just a few months out. Their impact will only be limited by the size of the challenges we take on, not the size of the equipment we deploy.

For a nation with a small population, we take on some big challenges – but we're successful when we take them on together. That's why as your national science agency, we work with every Australian university, every government department, and more than 3,000 businesses covering every major Australian industry.

There can be no challenge more important than understanding our environment – and there are few environments as special as the southern oceans and the Great Barrier Reef. The world will judge us by our stewardship of these assets, just as the Southern Ocean will be the ultimate judge of whether our environmental mitigation and adaptation strategies are working.

We were going to have a little naming ceremony for the three Saildrones today, and I had a couple of names ready to propose, but we're going to instead ask the CSIRO brains trust to help us decide on them, so watch this space.

So let me make a slight alteration to the traditional blessing of the ship and all her sail in her, to instead wish these Saildrones successful travels, and good luck to all who remotely navigate their mission.

We're thrilled to welcome this fleet of Saildrones as the latest innovators to join CSIRO's world-class team.

Bon voyage!


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