Tributes flow for water expert Cullen


From ABC online  

Water experts are paying tribute to Professor Peter Cullen, one of Australia’s leaders in the field.

The 65-year-old founding member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists died overnight at his home near Canberra.

Professor Cullen was active in advising governments on how to address dwindling water supplies.

He retired in 2002 but continued his scientific work, focusing on the plight of Australia’s rivers.

Professor Mike Young of the Wentworth group says Professor Cullen was a wonderful communicator who could translate complex science to ordinary, young Australians and politicians.

"Peter really was a great Australian who loved and understood water and wanted to find better ways to manage it," he said.

"He believed if we got water management right, then Australia would have a sustainable future."

Professor Cullen’s friend and professional colleague, Paul Perkins, says Australia’s natural waterways have lost a great advocate.

"He towered above everything," he said. "He was a big man in intellect, in size, in appetite for new things, and so on.

"He wasn’t just an environmentalist or agricultural scientist – he covered… the whole spectrum."

Dr Paul Sinclair from the Australian Conservation Foundation says the scientist was passionate about alerting Australians to the crisis facing the country’s river systems.

"There’s sort of two sorts of academics," he said.

"There are academics who like to bang in the ivory tower and there are academics who like to be down and dirty in the swamp.

"Peter Cullen … liked to be down and dirty in the swamp.

"When he retired from his academic post, it appeared to me that there was … no change in his work regime and he appeared to be busier than ever."

Politicians from all sides have paid tribute.

Federal Water Minister Penny Wong says Professor Cullen made a powerful contribution to water reform.

Senator Wong says he was an inspiration to many.

Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has praised the Professor’s dedication, saying he hopes his legacy lives on.

New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma also paid tribute to Professor Cullen.

In a statement, Mr Iemma says the academic was a man of great vision who made an outstanding contribution to water policy.

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