Chief scientist for the NSW Government Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte said a big part of his job was supporting universities and making sure they were engaged with both government and with industry. He said it was non-political post that had three specific roles.
"We provide independent, evidence-based advice to the government and often we provide advice that Ministers don't want to see. Particularly when it comes to things like dead fish, coal mines and so on," he said.
"The second part is, we have a budget to attract research excellence that will result in translational outcomes in some form. The last thing we do is promote science right across the spectrum, from schools right up to politicians."
One my big things that I would like to do in NSW it to better align universities with industries that can really develop an economic and social outcome.Prof Hugh Durrant-Whyte
Prof Durrant-Whyte said even though he had spent only a half-day here, he was extremely impressed with UNE. He thought it was arguably Australia's leader in the area of agricultural research, agricultural technology and related areas, such as farm genetics and remote imaging as it applies to agriculture.
"That's important because it is a huge part of our economy and the kind of thing that we need to, not just support, but build into what I would think of as more of a global industry that Australia can deliver," he said.
"It's important to have the Department of Primary Industries up here at UNE. They are a significant co-funder of work up here and very much a part of taking the work that is done here and using it not just across the State, but across the country.
"One my big things that I would like to do in NSW it to better align universities with industries that can really develop an economic and social outcome. It's pretty clear here that UNE leads in that agricultural space."
He said UNE had a 40 year history surrounding genetics and genetic breeding to improve yields and profitability surrounding beef, sheep, poultry, trees and a very new project involving honey bees using some of the same selective breeding methodologies.
"There is a huge difference in profitability of a farmer who produces beef if you can improve that by five, 10 or 20 per cent. That's critical to sustaining agriculture in a region and just changing the way it drives the local economy," he said.