Clunies Ross Foundation Awards Ceremony

(7pm 14 June 2012, Sydney Convention Centre)

Hello, everyone - it's good to be hosting these 2012 awards in Sydney. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nationalities who call our city home.

I also acknowledge Senator the Hon Kate Lundy, Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, and Catherine Livingstone, Chair of Telstra and tonight's keynote speaker.

I would also like to mention my family's connection with CSIRO. My father-in-law, Dr Milton Moore AO, was a Plant Geneticist at CSIRO for 40 years, and my brother-in-law, Dr Phillip Moore researched wool with CSIRO for 20 years.

The breadth of interests and skills that were shown by Ian Clunies Ross find a fitting memorial in the ATSE Clunies Ross Awards.

He was someone, as his biography reminds us, who built a national reputation as both an applied scientists and a great communicator, someone who sought to trace the links between science and society and between Australia and the world.

Those characteristics are continued in the work of this Foundation, whose mission statement commits it to "advance science, its communication and application, to benefit a developing Australia and the challenges of our global environment".

It could not be a more apposite mission than now, when we need to re-think the way we live, consume, work, build and do business in the face of the challenges posed by global warming and resource depletion.

We need to find intelligent solutions to a host of challenges.

Science can point the way, but we need financiers and governments and industry to work with science, and with each other, to back the technologies that will give us green and sustainable growth.

At the City of Sydney, we have formulated a strategy for Sustainable Sydney 2030. Cities, as major consumers and major sources of greenhouse emissions, must be where we make the changes.

A key element of our strategy includes a network of local, gas-fired power generating units - not exactly a new technology, since New York has had such a system since the 19th century, though ours is updated to allow for tri-generation of power, heating and cooling.

The ground-breaking elements here lay firstly in our willingness as a local government to actually do something about making our city sustainable and then to deal with the regulatory barriers that were preventing the introduction of tri-generation.

Finally, it was in building partnerships with the private sector so that information, technologies and solutions can be shared for the benefit of all.

This, I think, is the sort of approach that would have appealed to Ian Clunies-Ross, and indeed, to those being honoured here this evening.

Taking an idea, as you have done, from the conceptual to the practical realm is never easy - and there will always be a chorus of nay-sayers to tell why it can't be done, or it needn't be done.

All the more honour to you, then, that you have persisted.

At the City of Sydney, we are trying to nurture our young start-ups by providing council-owned properties at cheap rates where like-minded communities can have a chance to try their ideas.

We act as brokers to help them with mentoring, support and finance. Not all will be ground-breakers, but we hope at least some will be Clunies-Ross Award winners of the future.

They will have the work of tonight's winners to inspire them, and I congratulate all of you and thank you for your contributions to a better Australia.