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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 8 Hansard (31 August) . . Page.. 2703 ..

Thursday, 31 August 2000


The Assembly met at 10.30 am.

(Quorum formed.)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MR SPEAKER: I would like to recognise the presence in the gallery of year 6 students from Torrens Primary School who are here to study local government. Welcome to your Assembly.


MS CARNELL (Chief Minister): I move:

That this Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Canberra resident Sir Mark Oliphant who will be remembered for his contribution to science nationally and internationally, and tenders its profound sympathies to his family.

Mr Speaker, I felt a great sense of loss on learning of the death of Sir Mark Oliphant on 14 July 2000 at the age of 98. Sir Mark Oliphant was one of the great scientists of the 20th century and his life spanned the first 100 years of Australian nationhood. Born in Adelaide in 1901, his first schooling was at a one-teacher establishment in the Adelaide hills. He matriculated in 1918 and entered the University of Adelaide, despite problems with his sight and being almost totally deaf in one ear. After graduating with an honors degree in science, he married Rosa in 1925.

Sir Mark was awarded his doctorate in 1929. Early in his career he worked with the famous experimental physicist Lord Rutherford and his team at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. The group succeeded in 1932 in splitting the atom. In 1936, Sir Mark was appointed to the University of Birmingham's Poynting Chair of Physics.

With the onset of war, Oliphant was heavily involved in the development of radar. However, it was the experience of the Manhattan Project, a joint American/British venture, and the detonation of nuclear devices at Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War that led Sir Mark to a deeply held personal conviction against nuclear deterrents.

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