News & Media

Victorian Science’s Shining Light Open For Business

The Premier, John Brumby, today officially opened the Australian Synchrotron at Clayton, heralding a new era for scientific research in Australia. “Australian scientists already punch above their weight, but this facility means we can expand into new areas, finding solutions to modern problems,” Mr Brumby said. “Now that this project is up and running an extra $110 million a year is expected to flow into to the national economy, creating an extra 2500 direct and indirect jobs.” The $207 million synchrotron is a source of powerful light that scientists can use to assess the structure of materials at the minute molecular level. It can be used to produce new medicines, allow more accurate forensic examinations, produce more powerful computer chips, find new ways to extract metal from ores, make stronger building materials and monitor pollution. Mr Brumby said the synchrotron was the most significant scientific project built in Australia for at least 20 years and marked a new era of national collaboration in science and technology. Commonwealth Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, joined Mr Brumby unveiling a plaque marking the occasion. Five State Governments, the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments, 25 Australian universities, CSIRO, ANSTO and other research institutions have come together to fund this unique research platform that will drive Australian innovation for years to come. The Minister for Major Projects, Theo Theophanous, said that the Australian Synchrotron demonstrated Victoria’s ability to build large and technically demanding infrastructure. “Major Projects Victoria and its contractors have done a magnificent job, delivering a highly complex facility in record time and on budget,” Mr Theophanous said. “Firms from around the world, including over 100 from Victoria, have helped to build the new Australian Synchrotron which is regarded as one of the top ten synchrotrons in the world.” Mr Brumby said scientists had submitted a number of applications to use the facility which were currently being assessed by a panel of experts. “The Synchrotron is ready for business and soon Australia’s best and brightest researchers will be able to benefit from using one of the top ten synchrotrons in the world. “It could even help to save an Australian icon – the Tasmanian Devil.” Dr Jeff Church from CSIRO plans to use the synchrotron to combat the Devil Facial Tumour Disease – a horrific facial tumour that has killed thousands of devils. “Only synchrotron light is powerful enough to detect minute changes in hair composition and an infrared beamline in Melbourne instead of 20 hours’ flight away makes this research possible,” Dr Church said. “We hope to use the synchrotron to help develop a quick, inexpensive diagnostic test that can be carried out on captured animals in the field.” Mr Brumby also announced that Catherine Walter would chair the Australian Synchrotron Company, which will oversee operation and development of facility. She is currently Chairman of Equipsuper, a Director of Orica, James Hardie, Australian Foundation Investment Company, Melbourne Business School and Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, and also a member of the Federal Government’s Financial Reporting Council. Previously Ms Walter was Managing Partner of the Melbourne Office of Clayton Utz