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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 December 2010) . . Page.. 5787 ..


Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Canberra Liberals I offer my condolences to the family and friends of Professor Fenner, in particular his daughter Marilyn, and I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens): Professor Frank Fenner, AC, CMG, MBE, MD, FAA and FRS was an outstanding Australian whose achievements and contribution were nothing less than exceptional. Whilst it is with much sadness at his passing that we are here today to honour his life, there should also be much celebration of what he managed to achieve in his lifetime and the positives for people all over the world that are thanks to Professor Fenner’s work.

In a professional career that began in the 1940s and never really ended, Professor Fenner’s output was prodigious. With dozens of books and hundreds of academic papers, his contribution to our understanding of virology and the natural environment was monumental. His passing is a great loss to our community, and on behalf of the Greens I would like to express our deepest sympathies to all his relatives and friends.

The list of his achievements is truly remarkable. One that struck me, and I think really illustrates his remarkable intellectual abilities, was that after joining the Australian Medical Corps in 1940, serving in Australia, the Middle East, New Guinea and Borneo as a field officer, pathologist and malariologist, he also found time to achieve a research MD from the University of Adelaide by 1942.

That was, of course, only the beginning of a career which deserves to be celebrated. I heard that he still diligently turned up to work every morning at 6.30 to work on textbooks when he was well into his 90s. His contribution to modern science and our understanding of the world is renowned the world over. Locally, of course, he was our ACT Australian of the Year in 2002—the same year he won the Prime Minister’s Science Prize.

As Mr Seselja has just said, Sir Gustav Nossal, emeritus professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Melbourne, said that Australian mourns the passing of one of its greatest biological scientists. He said, “What a life, what a career, what generosity of spirit, with his many contributions to the Australian Academy of Science. We shall not see his like again.” Ian Lowe, emeritus professor at Griffith University, Queensland, described Professor Fenner as a pioneer in understanding the growing imbalance between human activity and the needs of natural systems.

Professor Fenner’s contribution to the Australian scientific landscape is unmistakeable. Each year the Australian Academy of Science runs the Fenner conference on the environment that covers conservation issues in Australia and its environs. The purpose of these conferences is to bring together those with relevant scientific, administrative and policy expertise to consider current environmental and conservation problems in Australia, thereby contributing to the formation of policies that can alleviate some of these problems.

The academy also awards the Fenner Medal that recognises outstanding contributions to science. Its purpose is to recognise distinguished research in biology by Australian


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