7 December 2003

The Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, will become Dr Peter Beattie after receiving an honorary Doctor of Science degree at a University of Queensland graduation ceremony on Wednesday, December 10.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor John Hay said he had personally nominated the Premier for the award, which was approved recently by the University’s governing Senate.

“Peter Beattie is an Alumnus of this University, who is being recognised for his leadership and commitment to higher education through the Queensland government’s Smart State initiatives,” he said.

Professor Hay said Mr Beattie had placed a strong emphasis on establishing growth in industries such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, attracting and distributing significant funding for development in these areas.

“Through Smart State initiatives, The University of Queensland has received significant funding towards bioscience research,” he said.

“The Queensland Government supported the University in establishing the Queensland Bioscience Precinct, providing $15 million towards construction costs, and has committed to provide a further $77.5 million in operational funding over 10 years.

“Up to $20 million will be allocated by the Queensland Government towards the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. A $10 million grant was also provided for UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute.

“The funding has enabled the University to leverage funding from other sources, which has helped us to attract and recruit the best scientists from overseas. Having such a critical mass of scientists has helped us reverse the brain drain from the State and achieve international recognition for Queensland as a hub and leader in research excellence.

“I congratulate Mr Beattie and his Government for their foresight in supporting the University’s endeavours to provide the leading jobs and educational opportunities of the future.

“The University’s goal is to build research areas in which it is a leading player both in Australia and overseas, reflecting Queensland’s growing status as a region for research excellence.”

Premier Beattie said he was greatly honoured because UQ had been a leading Smart State university. “While we have been very strong supporters of biotechnology they’ve had the brains and the researchers,” he said.

“What’s happening in areas like brain research and in all the areas of biotechnology is just brilliant and this is a world class research facility.

“John Hay is a master of matching dollars, whatever we give he manages to get money out of everyone else – out of the CSIRO, grants and the Commonwealth government, DPI – I mean he has been brilliant.

“Sure we have been the catalyst but frankly it’s required the leadership of the Vice-Chancellor and this University and they are paving the way for Queensland’s future.

“This century has got to be the century of biotechnology and unless you are the best in the world you will get left behind and this University is the best in those research facilities.”

Premier Beattie said he was honoured to receive the honorary Doctor of Science degree because he was passionate about science and biosciences.

“I’ll make sure I’ll put it on wherever it is appropriate especially overseas to highlight Queensland but I am a very shy and modest person as you know. It is a great honour and I am flattered by that but I am also very proud of this University.”

Mr Beattie said he would address the graduates about “the importance of biotechnology, the importance of science and the importance of where we need to be for the future in that innovation and using our brains."

“Queensland because of our climate and weather has the opportunity to become the California of Australia – Silicon Valley is there, San Diego is biotech, and with those sort of research institutes we can become world leaders and that is what my message will be. The people at UQ really framed Smart State. I mean it has become a passion for us but it would be very dishonest of me if I didn’t say this University had a key role in actually framing the Smart State.”

Premier Beattie was born in Sydney in 1952 and undertook his secondary education at Atherton State High School. He graduated Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from The University of Queensland in 1976 before becoming a solicitor.

He joined the Labor Party in 1974 and was elected to the position of State Secretary in 1981. In 1989 he was elected as the Member for Brisbane Central. He served as Minister for Health before becoming Leader of the Opposition in 1996. He has been Queensland’s Premier since1998 and Minister for Trade since February 2001.

Premier Beattie will address 300 graduands in UQ’s Faculty of Biological and Chemical Sciences, at the 6pm graduation ceremony in the UQ Centre, Union Road, St Lucia campus on December 10.

Media: Further information, Jan King 0413 601 248.