It was the plea for forward thinking, made in front of the man who has the power to make it happen.
Take the politics out of research, and support the nation's scientists to do their jobs, biomedical scientist Alan Mackay-Sim said, in his first act as Australian of the Year.
"Researchers need a long view, much longer than the political horizon," he said.
Professor Mackay-Sim, who has already been credited with a scientific miracle, after his work helped a paraplegic walk again, is now working on another – bring a bipartisan, long-term view to medical research in Australia, taking it beyond the political horizon, to where properly funding research becomes a basic tenet of Australian life.
"I think that, historically, governments go up and down in their funding," he told Fairfax Media.
"We have to believe in ourselves, rather than think: 'OK, well, let's just back off on science and technology, we'll just buy it later on when it comes to Australia'.
"We can contribute, we can design something and we can do it ourselves.
"I would like to see an agreed policy position. You know we agree, for example, that Australia needs a defence force and we agree that we need a fantastic health system so let's agree that we also need a fantastic science base on which to build our economy and improve the health of Australians and make it a major issue for Australia."
For a nation that fostered the minds who went on to gift the world ultrasound scans, the medical application of penicillin, cochlear implants, Gardasil, spray-on skin and pacemakers, it shouldn't be such a controversial topic.
But a report released late last year by The Australian Society for Medical Research found that "five years of static investment into the National Health and Medical Research Council has resulted in falling grant funding rates and a decline in the NHMRC-funded research".
The government attempted to address this with its Medical Research Future Fund, which has a target of $20 billion. As of August last year, $4.4 billion had been credited to the fund.
But concerns over access and the on-going funding available to researchers have been raised, with researchers having to spend time re-applying for grant funding, which could end before a project has a chance to bear fruit.
Professor Mackay-Sim said it's a conversation all sides of politics – and beyond - needed to be open to.
"Because of the nature of science, to get anywhere you have to think long-term and you have to fund long-term," he said.
"And not just thinking of funding from the federal government, but thinking about other parts of the community – insurance companies who might have an outcome depended on biomedical research maybe [will] save money in the future because of breakthroughs in biomedical research – and try and get science out of the daily political life and into agreed values and agreed strengths that need to be funded.
"And I am talking about people, people funding as much as anyone else - I'm talking about concern for the careers for younger scientists.
"Younger scientists have ideas, they have energy and passion, and they go up in the current environment and move up to a certain point and face huge competition and fall out of the path and there is no reason why they should, everything being equal."
The nation's latest science minister, Arthur Sinodinos, has already announced his support for the Emeritus Professor's call.
"He is right to remind us to take the long view when it comes to research and the need to invest in new treatments that reduce future health costs for all Australians," he said.
"Professor Mackay-Sim inspires us to aim to be the best in the world in whatever field we can and that is my aspiration for Australian industry, innovation and science.
"Young Australian scientists should take great encouragement from the recognition of Professor Mackay-Sim this year and I hope we have reached a turning point in this country where we praise the achievements of our scientists in the same way as high achievers in other fields.
"I am committed to building world-class careers for our young scientists and addressing the barriers to all Australians, regardless of background or gender, wanting to play a part in the future of scientific research in Australia."
Professor Mackay-Sim said he hoped his newest honour would help open doors where starting that conversation matters, and see it taken beyond those rooms, to the public arena.
The story Australian of the Year Alan Mackay-Sim: it's time to take politics out of research first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.