State Memorial Service to honour Frank Fenner

6 December 2010

Tributes to Emeritus Professor Frank Fenner AC continue to come in from politicians, members of the public, the science community and from around ANU. Professor Fenner passed away on Monday.

To accommodate condolence messages and tributes, The John Curtin School of Medical Research have set up a condolence message board.

Meanwhile, politicians from across the board have paid tribute to Professor Fenner. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, speaking in Parliament, paid tribute saying that Professor Fenner was a man of “exceptional integrity, modesty and generosity of spirit’ who "showed that Australians are capable of great things.”

Opposition leader Tony Abbott also paid tribute, supporting the Prime Minister’s remarks, and lamenting the “passing of a truly great Australian. In fact, he was probably the finest Australian scientist not to have won a Nobel Prize,” said Mr Abbott.

In the Senate, Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research moved a motion (page 53) that the senate “notes the passing of scientist and scientific historian, advocate and philanthropist Professor Frank Fenner”, acknowledged his immense contribution to Australian and world science and expressed condolences to Professor Fenner’s family. Senator Carr also sent out a media release describing Professor Fenner as a “…distinguished Australian, a brilliant, generous and passionate researcher.”

Also in the Senate, Greens Senators Rachel Siewert and Christine Milne paid tribute, acknowledging the “huge contribution Professor Fenner made to the nation.”

On Thursday, Dr Andrew Leigh – Federal Member for Fraser, and a former Professor of Economics at ANU, paid tribute to Professor Fenner in Parliament, highlighting the "monumental contributions he made to Australia and the world."

The ANU community also paid tribute. ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Chubb said: “He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by academics, students and all of us at ANU, and many people elsewhere.

“His contribution, at and to ANU, to the nation, and indeed the world, is difficult to quantify because it is so wide-ranging,” added Professor Chubb.

Director of The John Curtin School of Medical Research, Professor Julio Licinio wrote that Professor Fenner had a ‘remarkable career’ and that he was greatly saddened by his passing.

Beyond the campus community the nation’s leading scientists also paid tribute, including Sir Gustav Nossal and Professor Suzanne Cory, President of the Australian Academy of Science. Professor Peter Doherty, Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe, Professor Suzanne Garland, Professor Fiona Stanley, Professor Tony Cunningham, Dr Barry Smyth and Dr Alan Hampson also paid tribute to Professor Fenner.

Members of the public also paid tribute via social media, with hundreds of messages on the micro-blogging site Twitter about his passing.

Professor Fenner’s family have placed a notice in The Canberra Times saying that his funeral will be a private cremation and that a memorial service will be announced at a later date.

An obituary written by Peter McCullagh is available.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that the late Emeritus Professor Frank Fenner will be honoured with a State Memorial Service to be held at The Australian National University on 17 December 2010. 

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