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Tuesday, 26 February 1985
Page: 182

Senator JESSOP —I draw the attention of the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce to the fact that so far this year Australia has suffered losses in the vicinity of $250m as a result of natural and man-made disasters. Is the Minister aware that there is currently under development in Australia a state of the art computer based disaster management project called CADMAS, which, it has been estimated, could save the Australian community from 10 to 20 per cent of the annual cost of natural and man-made disasters? Is the Minister also aware that this project has been in the funding pipeline of the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Act since November 1983? In the light of these recent losses and the losses that are suffered every year from natural and man-made disasters, will the Government examine this project with the object of providing the necessary research and development grant to enable this system to be introduced as a matter of urgency in the national interest?

Senator BUTTON —I do not make industrial research and development grants. That is the function of the Australian Industrial Research and Development Incentives Board. That body is at arm's length from government. It is not within my province to direct that a grant be made to the CADMAS project. I was not aware that $250m had been lost, as Senator Jessop put it, as a result of natural and man-made disasters in Australia. I thought the figure would be far higher than that, if we included people such as Senator Jessop in the disaster category. It is very difficult to define. The point I am making is: What are natural and man-made disasters?

Senator Jessop —The fires in Victoria and things like that.

Senator BUTTON —I think we have plenty of them here, in addition to fires and so on. I am aware of the CADMAS project. I am aware that it is reaching the final stage of recommendation to me by the IRDI Board, if a recommendation has not, in fact, yet been made. I suspect that it may have and that it may be in the pipeline to me, as it were. I am aware of the project. I am not sure what the recommendation will be but it is on the point of fruition.