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Thursday, 4 April 1957

Mr Ward d asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -

1.   Have scientists attached to the organization discovered and developed a process which greatly reduces the cost of producing zirconium?

2.   ls there no known substitute for zirconium metal required in the manufacture of nuclear reactors?

3.   Is this discovery by Commonwealth scientists of the utmost national importance and of great value in every respect?

4.   Has the Commonwealth sold the secret of the new process to an American private firm for 250,000 dollars?

5.   If so, is the price paid regarded as being a reasonable one, and is it considered advisable from a national viewpoint that this information should have been sold at all, particularly to a private firm?

Mr Casey - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The process which has been discovered is a process for producing zirconium free from hafnium.

2.   Yes.

3.   At the moment it is of no importance to Australia for the purpose of nuclear energy development.

4.   Yes.

5.   Yes.

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