The Australian Electoral Commission has planned to rename the current electoral division of Fraser to Fenner, as part of a set of proposed electoral redistributions. This change would honour the late Professor Frank Fenner, a distinguished virologist who spent many years at the ANU.

The AEC’s proposed electoral redistribution would shift some inner north electors of the electoral division of Fraser to that of Canberra. This would ensure that both seats would meet requirements under the Electoral Act. Such a redistribution was required under Commonwealth electoral statute, as more than seven years has passed since the last redistribution.

These changes will come into place at the next election. Ironically, the ANU will remain located in the seat of Canberra, not Fenner.

Vice-Chancellor Ian Young praised the Fenner family and supported the proposed changes, stating that, “this honour will place ANU and its outstanding research strengths at the heart of the Canberra community, and demonstrate the university’s ties with the city”.

Professor Fenner, one of Australia’s greatest scientists, died in 2010 at the age of 95. He was a renowned microbiologist, who had a prolific research career. Professor Fenner was the Director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU from 1967 to 1973. Subsequently, he set up and was the Director of the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies at ANU until 1979.

Even after his retirement, he continued to be an active and useful member of the ANU academic community.

During his career, Professor Fenner was the chair of a team working towards the eradication of smallpox, fought malaria in Papua New Guinea and was involved in the research of the myxomytosis virus. Professor Fenner also set in place the Bobbie Fenner and Frank Fenner accommodation bursaries.

ANU has named the Fenner Building, the Fenner School of Environment and Society, and Fenner Hall in his honour, and also awards the annual Frank Fenner Medal for top PhD thesis each year.

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