Speech at the Launch of the Freefall Experience Design Ideas Competition



20 November 2013

National Arboretum
Weston Creek, Canberra

I would like to thank Rolfe Hartley [Chair, Engineers Australia Canberra], Alex Baitch [President Elect, Engineers Australia Canberra] for your kind words, and also thank you to the ACT Minister, Mr Shane Rattenbury.

I would also like to thank you all for being here on this beautiful morning, and for the kind words about this wonderful venue that have been made, which I completely agree with.

As the Minister responsible for the National Capital Authority and the territories more generally, it is a great pleasure to be here this morning. I took the opportunity earlier whilst Alex was speaking to reflect upon how much more important engineers have become to me in a real way in the last two months since I've been appointed to this portfolio.

My role in the Government, in the Prime Minister's mind, is to ensure that the major road commitments we made during the election campaign, which are extensive across the country, are successfully implemented. For those commitments to be implemented and for my job to be successful, it's also essential you all do your job very well! So, in this sense, you've all become extremely important to me over the last two months and will be important to us all in the coming years.

I think if you reflect upon our society, engineers play maybe not the highest profile role, but an absolutely fundamental role nonetheless to ensuring the living standards of our people are at the highest possible level. You create, design and implement the solutions that ensure our cities work, our mines operate at the highest efficiency, build the structures we once thought impossible and develop solutions to the problems we never thought we had.

One of my favourite books is written by the American author, Robert Caro, about Robert Moses who is the man credited with building and designing New York City and making that great city work. The efforts he made and the ideas he fostered to ensure that great metropolis works, as well as it does, were driven by an engineer. Much of our society is driven by engineers and I acknowledge the efforts of you all today.

This competition provides a fantastic opportunity for free-thinking and activity to take place to develop a truly unique idea that will sit amongst what is a very special place in our country.

Often people are critical of Canberra, some of them being my colleagues on occasion, and I think unfairly. Canberra is a very special place. It represents everything which is so strong about our country. It represents our freedom and our democracy, and the fact you now have the opportunity to contribute to that is a terrific thing.

Engineers have done so much for Canberra over the years and this addition will be of huge benefit to the people of this city and to Australia more broadly. This is our national capital and it truly does reflect how we want to be viewed by the rest of the world. This competition will continue to add to that vision.

The thoughts, ideas and innovation that will arise from this competition and the winning design will be an important part of our future, and will one day be an important part of our history. This is a truly great competition and it is a great privilege to launch it this morning on behalf of the Australian Government. It is part of our commitment to ensure Canberra is the city it can be, the strong city we want it to be, to reflect the country we are all so proud to be a part of.

Thank you very much for having me along this morning and I have great pleasure in launching the unique ideas competition.

Thank you very much.