A take-away coffee in hand on a day of royal duties, Prime Minister Scott Morrison headed to Kogarah on Friday to make a major funding announcement that will propel a key medical research hub into greater heights.
A relaxed Mr Morrison, who is climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge with Prince Harry today, stopped by St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation to deliver cash flow news and squeeze in a tour of laboratories.
The federal government is throwing more coin at the foundation’s Microbiome Research Centre – an Australian-first facility dedicated to studying gut bugs.
It is providing another $4 million towards vital research being done at the Kogarah centre, and follows last year’s initial $4 million given to the foundation to complete its facility.
The centre is due to be finished early next year. But more funds now means that current research will flourish, as scientists examine how the body’s microbiota has the potential to prevent and cure diseases.
Extra money will expand the centre’s capabilities in studying the effect of the microbiome in pregnancy, bowel, head and neck cancer, clotting and thrombosis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Mr Morrison says he wants to continue lifting health and science.
“We’re doubling down,” he said.
“We put $4 million in last time we were here and we are going with another $4 million for this project.
“When I see things that work, I want to keep doing it. It’s simple – if it’s working and is making a big difference, keep supporting it.
“In last year’s budget, I highlighted our medical industry as key in our economy. And this centre is getting recognised not just nationally, but internationally.
“Similar programs around the world are going to say ‘look at what the Aussies are doing’.
“The studies being done with mothers and infants, and how we can make more healthy children, that’s exciting. We need more scientists around the world saying that what is happening in Australia is innovative, visionary and specialised.
“When you have a centre here in St George, it also brings on local jobs, and can recognise some of the most brilliant young minds in the country.
“I never cease to get excited about the science community and how passionate people are, whether they’re working behind the labs or running the local health district. They just need backers who believe in them.”
Banks MP and Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, David Coleman, congratulated the foundation on its vision and perseverance.
“To have a genuine centre of excellence in southern Sydney, where we want to bring the best and brightest, is important,” he said.
“We are getting to that point with this level of funding where that’s starting to happen.”
Foundation chief executive Jacquie Stratford says another $4 million will strengthen the supportive partnership it has with the University of NSW, the state government and the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District.
“We are truly grateful,” she said. “It goes to show what success you can have when you work in collaboration.
“This continued support from the Prime Minister will turn the centre into a world class facility that will impact the health of Australians for years to come.”
Mr Morrison is this afternoon meeting with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
“I’ve got my first bridge climb today,” he added. “I think my girls are more excited about meeting a princess.”