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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 5783..


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Assembly met at 10 am.

(Quorum formed.)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair, made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional owners, and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Death of Professor Frank Fenner AC, CMG, MBE

Motion of condolence

MR STANHOPE: (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Land and Property Services, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage): I move:

That this Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Professor Frank Fenner, AC, CMG, MBE, distinguished and eminent scientist and philanthropist and tireless advocate for public health, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues in their bereavement.

Mr Speaker, following a rich and amazingly productive life, Professor Fenner sadly passed away on 22 November, aged 95, a great Canberran, an outstanding Australian and a hero of world medicine. Professor Fenner has been described by many of his friends and colleagues as an extraordinary intellectual, a wonderful scientist, and just a lovely person, and as a giant among us who achieved more in one lifetime than could be achieved in three or four careers.

Professor Fenner was born in Ballarat in 1914, but soon moved to Adelaide. He fondly remembered the benefits of growing up in a loving family which encouraged his childhood curiosity. In his early years, he wanted to study geology, but his father persuaded him to study medicine to open up a greater range of employment prospects—perhaps sound advice in retrospect.

In 1938 he graduated with a science and medical degree from the University of Adelaide. When World War II began, he joined the Army, serving as a captain and then a major in the Australian Army Medical Corps between 1940 and 1946. He developed an interest in infectious diseases during his service in Australia, Palestine, Egypt, New Guinea and Borneo. His work coordinating malaria control among Australian troops in New Guinea kept the rate of infection to a minimal level and resulted in his being made a member of the Order of the British Empire.

After the war, he worked alongside Sir Macfarlane Burnet at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, where he studied mousepox, a close relative of the smallpox virus. It was the beginning of a lifelong interest in pox viruses. In 1949 he received a fellowship to study at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York, where he researched mycobacterial disease. Returning to Australia in 1949, he moved to Canberra as Professor of Microbiology at


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