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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
world beaters 66 AUSTRALIA'S LAID BACK PERSONA BELIES A LONG STANDING TRADITION OF INNOVATION. BY HELEN MCCOMBIE The sky’s The limiT Innovation is blooming in Australia. In elds as diverse as agriculture and astronomy, Australia is achieving huge international success. ough well known for its relaxed way of life, Australia is actually one of the most hardworking of all the OECD nations. A 2008 sur vey from the Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney found that one in ve Australians work more than 50 hours a week. Another survey, from the Australia Institute, found that average Australians work six-and-a-half weeks of unpaid overtime a year, accruing an estimated 123 million days of annual leave worth AU$33 billion. From all this hard work has come a tradition of innovation. Australia produced the world's rst feature-length lm, e Story of the Kelly Gang, in 1906. A doctor from the Crown Street Women's Hospital in Sydney invented the original pacemaker in Australia in 1926, while scientists from the national science organisation CSIRO conducted the rst cloud-seeding experiments in 1947, making rain fall near Bathurst in New South Wales. e black box ight recorder was invented in Australia in 1953. at early tradition of innovation has continued and in more recent years Australia Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Frazer believes that Australians underestimate their abilities. "You know, we are 0.5 percent of the world's population and produce 2 percent of the scienti c output, and most of it in the best-quality journals. We really lead the eld in many areas of medical science," he says. So what is it that makes Australians so versatile? Is it the unique immigrant mix , the education system or the sheer tenacity of its people? Award-winning geneticist Katherine Belov believes it's all of those things, as well as the competitive nature of Australians. "We want to compete in the international arena and therefore have to work really hard in a very competitive environment," she says. " e combined impact of strong undergraduate and postgraduate education with inspiring mentors helps us achieve this." e ethos of giving everyone a go is another factor in Australia's success, according to a leading astronomer, Australian National University's Professor Brian Schmidt, who has developed a new breed of telescope that can scan the sky faster and deeper than any other. "As a young scientist I was free of any existing power structures, and entrusted to lead my own research," he says. Being able to work across a number of disciplines is another skill that Australians have developed. Sylvia Tulloch, a pioneer in the global development of third-generation solar cells and managing director of ASX- listed company Dyesol, thinks Australian scientists and engineers are particularly good at multidisciplinary problems and projects, whereas in larger economies people become more specialised in things they do. "For our project, which combines mimicking nature, chemistry, physics, electrical engineering and solar energy, that has been a key enabler for us," she says. Across all disciplines, Australia produces people who top their elds, and a racts people from overseas who nd it the best place to work. was responsible for diverse inventions such as long-wearing contact lenses, dual- ush toilets and anti-counterfeiting technlogy for banknotes. Australia punches above its weight in producing Nobel Prize winners, particularly in the area of science. In 2009, Professor Elizabeth Blackburn won the Nobel Prize for medicine for her research into telomeres, the caps that protect chromosomes in cells. e doctor who developed the cer vical cancer vaccine, Professor Ian Frazer, is Sco ish and came to Australia on a two-year working holiday and never went home. "I was drawn here by the science and we stayed because of the science. I mean, there were just so many good things going on," he told the ❝ We have 0.5 percent of the world's population and produce 2 percent of the scientific output. ❞