Launch of the Queensland Science Network
President of the Royal Society of Queensland, Doctor Geoff Edwards, Queensland Chief Scientist, Professor Paul Bertsch, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we gather, the Turrbul and Jagera people, and pay respect to their Elders past and present, with encouragement to their young emerging leaders.
Kaye and I warmly welcome you all to Government House this afternoon as we celebrate the launch of the Queensland Science Network and pay tribute to the Royal Society of Queensland for initiating it.
Throughout its long history, the Royal Society as the senior scientific organisation in the State has aimed to advance the progress of science, across disciplines, embracing both citizen and professional participation.
The commitment was born in 1884. On the piano lid I have placed the first volume of our treasured 14 volume history of the Royal Society of Queensland the first volume that year covers 1884.
That volume contains details of the discovery of new plants in Queensland, including 26 species of fungi, I am not sure we have representatives of our collaborial mycological society with us, new fish varieties in Moreton Bay, indigenous rock carvings on the Darling Downs and gold deposits at Mount Morgan near Rockhampton.
Also detailed descriptions of experimental wheat plantings at Kelvin Grove, an assessment of summer health for citizens living in Queensland, and a then bold assumption that electricity would never become more effective than steam power: apropos the current debate, I imagine coal was common to both!
The first meeting of the Society decreed the Queensland Governor should be Patron, and our State’s 6th Governor from 1883 to 1888 Sir Anthony Musgrave readily agreed.
He died just 4 years later at his desk in Old Government House of a strangulated bowel, something modern medicine and science have made almost completely treatable.
Governor Musgrave had been at odds with Premier Thomas McIIwraith over the Pacific Island labour trade. He was a popular Governor: forty thousand citizens witnessed his funeral procession to the Toowong cemetery, in late 19th century Brisbane.
Now back to the directly relevant: as the original goals of the Society stated, collaboration holds the key to advancing the progress of science.
The Society continues to facilitate and encourage information sharing in the face of increasing specialisation.
In October 2016, the Society recognised the need to amplify the efforts of the many diverse not-for-profit scientific societies working hard in the State to collect and disperse their unique knowledge about natural resources and the environment.
These passionate and perceptive groups in the community science sector lend a vital contribution to building intelligence through field excursions, publishing, and research, yet, did not have the means to effectively promulgate their work.
Now, with the launch of the Queensland Science Network, more than 20 Queensland societies focusing on fields ranging over birds, shells, native plants, and soil science have the opportunity to share findings and expertise, develop new initiatives, and herald their events and activities.
Their important work will reach more people, more quickly and efficiently, via the QSN website and Facebook page, where news, publications and activities can be uploaded and shared.
I understand the QSN is already demonstrating its value in the education sector, forming links to the senior science curriculum in schools, and by building a science library enabling access to information that may not have been possible before.
With this wealth of knowledge coalesced into one collaborative network, Queenslanders have been handed a tremendous asset.
I see this initiative as a celebration of science, encouraging, as it does, input from laypeople and qualified experts alike.
I commend the Royal Society for having the vision to create the network, and for putting in the huge effort to see it realised.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, and as proud Patron of the Royal Society of Queensland, I thank immediate Past President, Mr Craig Walton, for originating the idea for the QSN.
I also thank current President, Dr Geoff Edwards, the industrious members of the Society, and the individuals who have contributed to the project’s creation through effort or financial support.
It is now my honour and pleasure to officially launch the Queensland Science Network and to wish you all continued success as the network expands and flourishes.