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Wednesday, 2 November 1983
Page: 2210


Mr LINDSAY —by leave-The need for a new Australian radio telescope, a laboratory among the southern stars, is now urgent if Australia is to maintain its excellent reputation as a leading nation in world radio astronomy. Australia 's main radio telescope at Parkes is now over 20 years old. However, the requirements of modern radio astronomy cannot be satisfied by the existing generation of Australian telescopes. New radio telescopes with enhanced capabilities have been built in the northern hemisphere. It is clear that a new radio telescope designed for future needs is essential to preserve the vitality of Australian radio astronomy, to maintain Australia's reputation as a leader in world astronomy and to ensure that Australian astronomers continue to make significant astronomical discoveries.

The Australia Telescope will be constructed by the Hawke Labor Government-an authentic Australian government. Australian industry will construct the antennas of the total project, nearly 80 per cent of which will be of Australian content. Australian industry will gain valuable experience in the field of satellite communications. In addition, Australian industry will make advances in high speed digital techniques, particularly those involving optical fibres. The development of very large integrated circuits will have an impact on signal processing techniques. Both the hardware and the software developed for image processing on the Australia Telescope will have widespread applications in biomedicine and industry.

Importantly, Australian radio astronomy had its beginnings in the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's Division of Radio Physics in the development of radar during World War II. We Australians will appreciate that should there be another comparable national emergency our nation will possess a ready-made research team in electronics and signal processing which is as good as any in the world. The Australian Bicentennial Authority has accepted the Australia Telescope as a worthwhile bicentennial project. I know that the Federal Minister for Science and Technology (Mr Barry Jones) will pursue this project. He will give leadership to ensure that this national project will receive every impetus from the Australian Government so that this Australia Telescope will be ready and in operation for the celebration of our bicentenary.

I thank my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Public Works for their intelligent and diligent application to the work during the hearings and investigations of the Australia Telescope proposal. I know that they will join with me in commending this proposal to the House and to the efforts of the Australian Government.