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18 June 2019 Speech

Check against delivery

I would like to begin by also acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora nation as the Traditional Owners of the land that we are on today, and pay my respect to their Elders past and present.

For over 100 years, CSIRO has been solving Australia's greatest challenges through science and technology.

Whether it's been addressing the rabbit plague with myxomatosis, creating new drought-resistant cotton to give Australia an unfair advantage, or transforming the world with breakthrough innovations like ultrasound imaging and Wi-Fi.

Through science and technology, we've created healthier Australians, a more sustainable environment, entire new industries and new jobs, and grown the wealth of the nation.

But what about the future?

With an increasingly global world; the rapid disruption of even the most stalwart and steady industries; and the impacts of social, environmental and technology discourse; we continue to face significant challenges.

It is these challenges that have brought us here today.

The Australian National Outlook is a bold undertaking.

Starting in 2015 we harnessed the power of science to take a special look at Australia's future, possibly the first time science had been used to predict a path to prosperity for an entire nation - at least thats what the folks at Nature, science's most prestigious publication said when they rushed to publish our work.

But science and innovation only work in the hands of real people solving real problems, so in this new study, we partnered with a group of visionary business leaders across more than 20 leading Australian organisations across industry, not-for-profit and the education sector - to provide a compelling view about our future.

The world has many problems, so many in fact that the United Nations defined 17 SDGs - 17! But Australia has 1 more - our innovation dilemma...... We can choose to stride towards a more positive future outlook filled with growth, or one where we face a slow decline.

There are big drivers for taking action. The research suggests it is possible to achieve higher real GDP per capita - as much as 36 per cent - while ensuring growth is inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

In a global context, we must embrace science to reinvent our future - to solve seemingly impossible problems like climate change and to do so by creating new industries, new jobs, and new economic value to drive our economy rather than restrain it.

But achieving this vision will require long-term thinking and concerted action – it won't be easy.

The report identifies five key shifts needed across: industry, cities, energy, land use, and culture. While none of these shifts on their own are new, what is new is how ANO has integrated them to identify pathways for the future.

We will hear more of this shortly from James Deverell.

So how can we navigate to the best path when the future appears so uncertain? In many ways, we've been here before. Science has help provide answers by focusing on solving the greatest challenges.

Allow me to share some examples:

We have reduced carbon emissions from livestock, representing 10 per cent of Australia's total emissions, by creating FutureFeed, a feed supplement that increases production and virtually eliminates methane emissions.

Working with Amfora, we are developing the technology to produce energy-rich feed for livestock, extracting oil from vegetative tissue, such as in stems and leaves, opening up the possibility of trebling oil productivity and greatly expanding renewable oil production worldwide.

And your National science agency has developed a metal membrane to extract pure hydrogen from ammonia, paving the way for a new Australian renewable hydrogen export industry.

Great strides have been made toward solving our greatest challenges, but we can do more.

At its core ANO aims to help put Australia on the path to the most prosperous future possible, and court a new way of thinking and leadership needed across all levels of business, government and non-government if we are to achieve this.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge all of our partners for your dedication, contribution and unique insight (and the many robust discussions and debate) you have brought to this initiative. You turn our solutions from science into economic growth. You, make our science real, and you inspire the amazing team of scientists in CSIRO; especially James Deverell and the CSIRO Futures team and the National Australia Bank a key partner who recognised from the beginning the immense potential of this project; the Australian National Outlook Steering Committee; and lastly,

I congratulate each of you and acknowledge your role in helping not just deliver a unique and incisive report, but having the courage to think about what we need to do as individuals and as communities to help secure a brighter future for Australia.

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