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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6732

Mr Jenkins asked the Minister representing the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, in writing, on 16 June 2010:

Why has there been a delay in Australia becoming a participant in ITER’s magnetic confinement fusion project, and what is the status of the Minister’s negotiation with ITER on this matter.

Dr Emerson (Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) —The Minister for Innovation, Science and Research has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

Membership of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project requires a significant financial investment to which Australia is currently unable to commit. As a result, Australia is not pursuing membership of ITER at this time.

However, Australian participation in the ITER project is progressing on a project by project basis through Australian researchers and institutions. Of particular relevance is the collaboration between ITER and the Australian Plasma Fusion Research Facility at the Australian National University which was established through a Government funded Major National Research Facilities Program grant of $8.7 million. This facility is currently being upgraded through a $7 million grant provided under the Government’s Super Science Initiative. Funding for this upgrade was provided, in part, to ensure that information and resources from the facility continue to contribute to the ITER project.