It is with particular pleasure that I add my congratulations to Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim on being named the Australian of the Year for 2017.
Professor Mackay-Sim has spent his career in service of others, using his talents to give hope and to bring radical improvements to people afflicted with a wide range of conditions.
His achievements constitute a powerful reminder of the value of fundamental research - and the diverse and often unexpected applications that come from it.
The deep well of natural curiosity that drives Australia’s scientists and researchers is an invaluable national resource - there is no greater incentive than the need to answer the question, "but why?”
Professor Mackay-Sim’s story is yet another reminder that public funding for fundamental research is a genuine investment that pays off in spades for our economy and our society.
The task of those of us involved in public policy is to help the nation harness that curiosity, to facilitate research so it can realise its manifold benefits.
Professor Mackay-Sim has devoted his life to serving the public good, and it is fitting that the community expresses its gratitude and recognises his achievement in this way.
Importantly, this award will also inspire young Australians and students to aspire to a career in research themselves.
It is in all our interests to support and nurture in the next generation of scientists and researchers the same curiosity and willingness to help others that have guided Professor Mackay-Sim.
Somewhere out there is a young Australian with a hunger for discovery who will be inspired today to choose a path in research. We don’t yet know what benefits will flow in the future, but we do know they will change lives.
For that inspiration we all owe Professor Mackay-Sim - and all our remarkable scientists and researchers - another debt of thanks.