McKeon appointed as CSIRO Chair

23 June

Announcement by the Senator the Hon Kim Carr:

It is a pleasure to announce the appointment of Simon McKeon as chairman of the CSIRO board for a term of five years.

Simon’s extensive knowledge of business and the law make him ideal for the position.

For some time now I have been saying that I want to put the “I” back into CSIRO – to sharpen its focus on the needs of industry, without compromising its excellence in basic research.

The appointment of Dr Megan Clarke as chief executive was one important step in that direction. Simon’s appointment is another. Simon brings executive experience in a wide range of public and private sector organisations to the board.

He is Executive Director and Chairman of Corporate Finance at Macquarie Bank Ltd and has been the President of the Australian Takeovers Panel since 1999. Even more interesting in some respects is his work with non-government organisations, whether as Chairman of Business for Millennium Development Chair of MS Research Australia or a Director of Red Dust Role Models and Vision Fund International.

This work doesn’t just speak of Simon’s dedication to alleviating hardship and disadvantage both at home and abroad. It will also give him a unique perspective on CSIRO’s own endeavours – especially as the organisation increases its focus on the human and social dimensions of scientific problems.

CSIRO

Simon joins CSIRO at a time when it is determining its strategic direction for the next four years. These deliberations will have a critical bearing on the future of this organisation. It is no exaggeration to say that they also have implications for the future of Australia. We live in a world where success in science – success in research – success in innovation – are the key to maintaining living standards and fulfilling people’s aspirations. It is a world in which every industry is becoming more knowledge-intensive and more technology-driven.

To prosper in this world, Australia needs to go on building its research and innovation capacity. That is why the Government has increased Commonwealth spending on research and innovation by 34 per cent since it came to office. This is an investment in modernising our economy, protecting our environment, and increasing the well being of individuals and communities across the country. This is a huge undertaking, and CSIRO is central to it. And by that I don’t just mean the CSIRO leadership. I mean every man and woman in the organisation. It is their creativity and dedication that make CSIRO great.

SKA

To take just one example. On the weekend I returned from a mission to Europe, where I was promoting Australia’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array radio-telescope. It is expected to attract 9 billion pound in international investment over its fifty-year life.

Which Australian organisation has been involved in the SKA project from the beginning? CSIRO.

Who is leading construction of the big new pathfinder telescope in Western Australia that will demonstrate Australia’s capabilities and test technologies for the SKA itself? CSIRO.

Who is forging SKA alliances across Europe and across the world – most recently with the Netherlands’ institute for radio astronomy? CSIRO.

CSIRO’s leadership on the SKA is at once strategic and visionary. This is precisely the kind of leadership our innovation system needs.

The future

Which brings us back to the leadership transition we are marking today. Let me place on record my thanks to Dr John Stocker, the outgoing chairman of the CSIRO board. He has made an outstanding contribution to science and science administration in Australia. We are very lucky to have someone of Simon McKeon’s calibre to succeed him.

Please join me in congratulating Simon on his appointment. The responsibility that goes with this position is enormous, but so is the opportunity … to oversee an iconic research enterprise to share in the joy of discovery and the wonder of science and to make a material difference Australia’s future.

Source: Office of Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science & Research

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