Inspecting facilities in a lab at the Southern Cross GeoScience Centre yesterday are (from left) Prof Richard Bush (obscured) Prof Jenny Graham, Page MP Janelle Saffin, Prof Leigh Sullivan and Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson.
Inspecting facilities in a lab at the Southern Cross GeoScience Centre yesterday are (from left) Prof Richard Bush (obscured) Prof Jenny Graham, Page MP Janelle Saffin, Prof Leigh Sullivan and Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson. Cathy Adams

SCU facility leading the world

TECHNICALLY it wasn’t even part of the campaign, but Page MP Janelle Saffin could hardly have been unhappy at the praise that she received at the official opening yesterday of Southern Cross University’s Geo-Science Centre.

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, who also has responsibility for Geoscience Australia, travelled to Lismore to join Ms Saffin, university Chancellor John Dowd, Vice-Chancellor Peter Lee and a host of academics and industry representatives from across Australia for what was billed as one of the world’s leading geoscience research facilities.

The work being done at the centre matches the billing.

GeoScience Centre director Professor Leigh Sullivan said the centre’s work ranged from studies of the impact of poor quality water run-off on the Great Barrier Reef; to the impact of acid-sulphate soils on the Murray-Darling Basin, and South Australia’s environmentally stressed Lower Lakes and Kurong; to the size and frequency of tsunamis on Australia’s west coast.

Researchers from the centre are also studying techniques for storing carbon in the soil, the impact of increasing ocean acidity, and unfolding crises in places such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, where rising salt levels in river estuaries is creating salination and acid sulphate problems.

In the speeches ahead of the formal opening, Mr Ferguson and Chancellor Dowd singled out Ms Saffin for praise for her work as an MP and as a member of the University Council.

There was no mention of specific Federal funding used in building the new centre.

However, Mr Ferguson said Labor had, since winning the 2007 election, lifted research funding by a 34 per cent.



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