Scientists ‘never been more important’ says SA Acting Premier Susan Close

Acting South Australian Premier Susan Close told scientists at the SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards that “we need all of you” to help solve issues like climate change, biodiversity loss and geopolitical challenges.

“You’ve never been more important,” she told the audience of scientists, academics and policy makers.

“And I don’t think we’ve ever been in more danger of science being disregarded, neglected and ignored.”

The statement was part of a larger speech highlighting a recent experience she’d had with climate change conspiracy theorists visiting her office.

“The truth is now a commodity that appears to be optional for too many people.”

“Now, of all the times in human history, we need to turn to truth, to robustness, to testing the propositions, to be prepared to be wrong, and argue only on the facts as we know them.”

After the ceremony, Close told Cosmos: ““We’re facing really serious problems.”

“The challenge right now is that we’re often hearing from voices that don’t believe that science matters, that truth matters, that evidence ought to be tested. They believe that you can simply assert something is true, and that others will believe it.

“That’s why we need scientists not only to be doing their work, but to be speaking up on behalf of science.”

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Close was the key note speaker at the Scientist of the Year Awards for 2023.

The SA Scientist of the Year was Professor Helen Marshall from the Women’s and Children’s Network and the University of Adelaide for vaccine research. Marshall won the SA Australian of the Year in 2022.

The SA Innovator of the Year was The Chrysos PhotonAssay team for mining technology.

The STEMM Educator of the Year was Christie Evans from Heathfield Primary School, and the industry colaboration award went to “Science to revive lost oyster reefs,” at the University of Adelaide.

The PhD for research excellence went to Dr Hayley Leake from the University of South Australia for pain research in adolescence. Dr Leake was a winner and a finalist on Australian Survivor.

The Acting Premier also noted South Australia’s place as a renewable energy hub, but stressed that there was always more to be done.

“South Australians are exceptional in their uptake of renewable energy. One in three households in Australia have solar panels, it’s one and two in South Australia. Our recycling rate is second to none in Australia … but what’s the next thing we do?” she asked.  

“Government’s job is to say ‘here’s the next thing’ and scientists job is to come up with what that thing is. It’s a great partnership.”

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