17 October 2019

 I rise to speak to congratulate Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger of the University of Western Australia on receiving the 2019 Prime Minister's Prize for Science. I think she has just arrived in the gallery—so hello to you, Professor Praeger. This honour recognises her extraordinary contribution to mathematics. It's not before time that Professor Praeger is recognised in this nation for the extraordinary work she has done around the world and especially at my own University of Western Australia. Her remarkable research and study in group theory, combinatorics and the study of symmetry has been an amazing thing and a record for her, for the nation and for mathematics around the world. She is an advocate for the beauty of mathematics.

Professor Praeger has created algorithms used in the most powerful computer systems in the world, and her efforts have changed the way algebra is researched and taught. She is a trailblazer like no other. Her positions and awards over a 40-year career are often the first time a woman has held those positions or received those awards. I believe she was among the first female professors of maths in this country and the first female professor at UWA. I remember Fay Gale, the former vice-chancellor, telling me that she was the second professor who was a woman at the UWA. She was also the first woman to be awarded the Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal from the Australian Academy of Science and also the first mathematician to be named the Western Australia Scientist of the Year. I'm so glad you are here, Professor Praeger. I'm so glad you have won and I am so glad I met you in my former work at UWA. Congratulations. You are an asset to the nation.